Honors Program


Date of this Version

Spring 3-28-2022

Document Type



McMurchie, A. 2022. Adapting Mammalian Hibernation Physiology to Rat Cardiac Ischemia and Reperfusion Injury/ Undergraduate Honors Thesis. University of Nebraska-Lincoln.


Copyright Ashley McMurchie 2022.


The stagnation of transplant waiting lists and unmodified practice of organ donation storage are limiting the lives that can be saved in an advancing medical field. With 41,000 organ transplantations performed in 2021 in the US alone, methodology that extends the shelf life of donated organs would greatly decrease the number of people who succumb to their conditions before treatment 1. Adapting mammalian hibernation physiology to organ donation processes may be the solution to this medical stagnation. This study focuses on the molecular properties of 13-lined ground squirrels (Ictidomys tridecemlineatus), such as the metabolites ketone body β- hydroxybutyrate and melatonin that allow for physiological resilience during the process of hibernation. We hypothesized that the inclusion of β-hydroxybutyrate and melatonin in Krebs- Henseleit buffer to condition hearts from non-hibernating Sprague Dawley rats would stimulate a torpor-like response and increase physiological resilience when assessing cardiac function. The utilization of ex-vivo perfusion allowed for simulated ischemia conditions and eventual reperfusion. We found that the Krebs-Henseleit and BHB/M perfusate was not protective from a model of acute myocardial infarction, but this solution also did not appear to have a detrimental effect on heart function. Future efforts will focus on rat models of donor organ cold storage.