Von Willebrand factor is reversibly decreased during torpor in 13-lined ground squirrels

Scott Cooper, Shawn Sell, Luke Nelson, Jennifer Hawes, Jacob A. Benrud, Bridget M. Kohlnhofer, Bradley R. Burmeister, Veronica H. Flood

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


During torpor in a hibernating mammal, decreased blood flow increases the risk of blood clots such as deep vein thrombi (DVT). In other animal models platelets, neutrophils, monocytes and von Willebrand factor (VWF) have been found in DVT. Previous research has shown that hibernating mammals decrease their levels of platelets and clotting factors VIII (FVIII) and IX (FIX), increasing both bleeding time and activated partial thromboplastin time. In this study, FVIII, FIX and VWF activities and mRNA levels were measured in torpid and non-hibernating ground squirrels (Ictidomys tridecemlineatus). Here, we show that VWF high molecular weight multimers, collagen-binding activity, lung mRNA and promoter activity decrease during torpor. The VWF multimers reappear in plasma within 2 h of arousal in the spring. Similarly, FIX activity and liver mRNA both dropped threefold during torpor. In contrast, FVIII liver mRNA levels increased twofold while its activity dropped threefold, consistent with a post-transcriptional decrease in FVIII stability in the plasma due to decreased VWF levels. Finally, both neutrophils and monocytes are decreased eightfold during torpor which could slow the formation of DVT. In addition to providing insight in how blood clotting can be regulated to allow mammals to survive in extreme environments, hibernating ground squirrels provide an interesting model for studying.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)131-139
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Comparative Physiology B: Biochemical, Systemic, and Environmental Physiology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2016

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Biochemistry
  • Physiology
  • Animal Science and Zoology
  • Endocrinology


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