Sciatic lesion does not induce bone disuse atrophy in a hibernating species

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Bone loss is evident in as little as 2 weeks in common rodent models of disuse atrophy. Yet hibernating mammals are inactive for 6–9 months per year. We previously demonstrated the maintenance of bone strength following the hibernation season in ground squirrels. Here, we investigated if active season squirrels naturally resist bone disuse atrophy. Unilateral sciatic lesions were performed on squirrels collected from the wild in June and September. Following a 6-week period of disuse, leg bones were collected and the following parameters were evaluated: bone morphometry, break force, flexural strength, flexural modulus, and ultrastructure (visualized through micro computed tomography). Despite sciatic denervation and disuse for 6 weeks, squirrels experienced no bone disuse atrophy. These results indicate resistance to bone disuse atrophy is not restricted to the hibernation season in ground squirrels.

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