The induction of hypometabolism in cells and organs to reduce ischemia damage holds enormous clinical promise in diverse fields, including treatment of stroke and heart attack. However, the thought that humans can undergo a severe hypometabolic state analogous to hibernation borders on science fiction. Some mammals can enter a severe hypothermic state during hibernation in which metabolic activity is extremely low, and yet full viability is restored when the animal arouses from such a state. To date, the underlying mechanism for hibernation or similar behaviors remains an enigma. The beneficial effect of hypothermia, which reduces cellular metabolic demands, has many well-established clinical applications. However, severe hypothermia induced by clinical drugs is extremely difficult and is associated with dramatically increased rates of cardiac arrest for nonhibernators. The recent discovery of a biomolecule, 5′-AMP, which allows nonhibernating mammals to rapidly and safely enter severe hypothermia could remove this impediment and enable the wide adoption of hypothermia as a routine clinical tool.


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  • Article Type: Review Article
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