Temperature effects on DNA damage during hibernation

Lauren de Wit*, Maarten R. Hamberg, Anne M. Ross, Maaike Goris, Fia F. Lie, Thomas Ruf, Sylvain Giroud, Robert H. Henning, Roelof A. Hut

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

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During multiday torpor, deep-hibernating mammals maintain a hypometabolic state where heart rate and ventilation are reduced to 2%–4% of euthermic rates. It is hypothesized that this ischemia-like condition may cause DNA damage through reactive oxygen species production. The reason for intermittent rewarming (arousal) during hibernation might be to repair the accumulated DNA dam-age. Because increasing ambient temperatures (Ta’s) shortens torpor bout duration, we hypothesize that hibernating at higher Ta’swill result in a faster accumulation of genomic DNA damage. To test this, we kept 39 male and female garden dormice at a Ta of either 57C or 107C and obtained tissue at 1, 4, and 8 d in torpor to assess DNA damage and recruitment of DNA repair markers in splenocytes. DNA damage in splenocytes measured by comet assay was significantly higher in almost all torpor groups than in sum-mer euthermic groups. Damage accumulates in the first days of torpor at Ta = 57C (between days 1 and 4) but not at Ta = 107C. At the higher Ta, DNA damage is high at 24 h in torpor, indicating either a faster buildup of DNA damage at higher Ta’soranin-complete repair during arousals in dormice. At 57C, recruitment of the DNA repair protein 53BP1 paralleled the increase in DNA damage over time during torpor. In contrast, after 1 d in torpor at 107C, DNA damage levels were high, but 53BP1 was not re-cruited to the nuclear DNA yet. The data suggest a potential mis-match in the DNA damage/repair dynamics during torpor at higher Ta’s.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)144-152
Number of pages9
JournalPhysiological and Biochemical Zoology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1-Mar-2023


  • DNA repair
  • DNAdamage
  • DNAstrandbreaks
  • Eliomys quercinus
  • hibernation
  • torpor

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