The Recovery of Hibernating Hearts Lies on a Spectrum: from Bears in Nature to Patients with Coronary Artery Disease

Robert W. Colbert, Christopher T. Holley, Laura L Hocum Stone, Melanie Crampton, Selcuk Adabag, Santiago Garcia, Paul A Iaizzo, Herbert B Ward, Rosemary F Kelly, Edward O McFalls

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


Clinicians often use the term “hibernating myocardium” in reference to patients with ischemic heart disease and decreased function within viable myocardial regions. Because the term is a descriptor of nature’s process of torpor, we provide a comparison of the adaptations observed in both conditions. In nature, hearts from hibernating animals undergo a shift in substrate preference in favor of fatty acids, while preserving glucose uptake and glycogen. Expression of electron transport chain proteins in mitochondria is decreased while antioxidant proteins including uncoupling protein-2 are increased. Similarly, hibernating hearts from patients have a comparable metabolic signature, with increased glucose uptake and glycogen accumulation and decreased oxygen consumption. In contrast to nature however, patients with hibernating hearts are at increased risk for arrhythmias, and contractility does not fully recover following revascularization. Clearly, additional interventions need to be advanced in patients with coronary artery disease and hibernating myocardium to prevent refractory heart failure.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)244-252
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of cardiovascular translational research
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jun 20 2015

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The work was supported in part by grants from The Veterans Affairs Merit Review and The Lillehei Foundation (High-Risk High Reward).

Funding Information:
Dr. Garcia is a recipient of a career development award (1IK2CX000699-01) from the VA Office of Research and Development.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2015, Springer Science+Business Media New York (outside the USA).


  • Antioxidant
  • Coronary artery disease
  • Glycogen
  • Heart failure
  • Hibernating myocardium
  • Metabolism
  • Mitochondria
  • Revascularization
  • Torpor
  • Uncoupling protein


Dive into the research topics of 'The Recovery of Hibernating Hearts Lies on a Spectrum: from Bears in Nature to Patients with Coronary Artery Disease'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this