University of Massachusetts Medical School Faculty Publications


A Translational Model for Venous Thromboembolism: MicroRNA Expression in Hibernating Black Bears

UMMS Affiliation

Department of Surgery; Bioinformatics Core; Program in Molecular Medicine; Division of Cardiovascular Medicine, Department of Medicine; Department of Emergency Medicine; Mueller Lab for Gene Therapy, Horae Gene Therapy Center; Department of Pediatrics

Publication Date


Document Type



Biological Phenomena, Cell Phenomena, and Immunity | Cardiovascular Diseases | Circulatory and Respiratory Physiology | Disease Modeling | Genetics and Genomics | Molecular Biology | Nucleic Acids, Nucleotides, and Nucleosides | Physiological Processes | Surgery | Translational Medical Research


BACKGROUND: Hibernating American black bears have significantly different clotting parameters than their summer active counterparts, affording them protection against venous thromboembolism during prolonged periods of immobility. We sought to evaluate if significant differences exist between the expression of microRNAs in the plasma of hibernating black bears compared with their summer active counterparts, potentially contributing to differences in hemostasis during hibernation.

MATERIALS AND METHODS: MicroRNA sequencing was assessed in plasma from 21 American black bears in summer active (n = 11) and hibernating states (n = 10), and microRNA signatures during hibernating and active state were established using both bear and human genome. MicroRNA targets were predicted using messenger RNA (mRNA) transcripts from black bear kidney cells. In vitro studies were performed to confirm the relationship between identified microRNAs and mRNA expression, using artificial microRNA and human liver cells.

RESULTS: Using the bear genome, we identified 15 microRNAs differentially expressed in the plasma of hibernating black bears. Of these microRNAs, three were significantly downregulated (miR-141-3p, miR-200a-3p, and miR-200c-3p), were predicted to target SERPINC1, the gene for antithrombin, and demonstrated regulatory control of the gene mRNA expression in cell studies.

CONCLUSIONS: Our findings suggest that the hibernating black bears' ability to maintain hemostasis and achieve protection from venous thromboembolism during prolonged periods of immobility may be due to changes in microRNA signatures and possible upregulation of antithrombin expression.


Anticoagulation, Antithrombin, Thrombosis, Venous thromboembolism, microRNA

DOI of Published Version



Fazzalari A, Basadonna G, Kucukural A, Tanriverdi K, Koupenova M, Pozzi N, Kakuturu J, Friedrich AU, Korstanje R, Fowler N, Belant JL, Beyer DE Jr, Brooks MB, Dickson EW, Blackwood M, Mueller C, Palesty JA, Freedman JE, Cahan MA. A Translational Model for Venous Thromboembolism: MicroRNA Expression in Hibernating Black Bears. J Surg Res. 2020 Aug 25;257:203-212. doi: 10.1016/j.jss.2020.06.027. Epub ahead of print. PMID: 32858321. Link to article on publisher's site


Full author list omitted for brevity. For the full list of authors, see article.

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Journal/Book/Conference Title

The Journal of surgical research

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