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Journal of biological rhythms

Seasonal Changes in Endocannabinoid Concentrations between Active and Hibernating Marmots (Marmota flaviventris).


PMID 29862861

Abstract

Hibernation is a naturally occurring model for studying diseases such as obesity and osteoporosis. Hibernators, marmots (Marmota flaviventris) among them, are able to nearly double their body mass by increasing fat stores prior to hibernation without the negative consequences of obesity. They are also physically inactive for extended periods of time without experiencing negative effects on the skeleton. The endocannabinoid system is involved in modulating neural signaling, circannual rhythms, behavior, appetite, thermogenesis, and bone and energy metabolism. These systems are also altered to maintain homeostasis during hibernation. This study aims to better understand the involvement of the endocannabinoid system in the regulation of physiological processes during hibernation by quantifying the seasonal variation of endocannabinoids and endocannabinoid-like ligands in both active and hibernating marmots. We hypothesized that there would be significant changes in endocannabinoid concentrations at the tissue level in marmots between active and hibernating states. Concentrations were measured in brain, serum, brown adipose tissue, white adipose tissue, bone marrow, cortical bone, and trabecular bone using microflow chromatography coupled with tandem quadrupole mass spectrometry. Significant changes were found, such as a 30-fold decrease in 2-arachidonoyl glycerol (2-AG) in cortical bone during hibernation. Many endocannabinoid and endocannabinoid-like ligands decreased in brown adipose tissue, white adipose tissue, and cortical bone, while several ligands increased in bone marrow. This result supports our hypothesis and suggests the possibility of a peripherally controlled shift in energy metabolism, reduction in bone metabolism, and suppression of the immune system during hibernation.

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