Livers of squirrels survive cold temperatures during hibernation by maintaining microcirculation.

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"Close investigation of hibernating states is giving scientists new insight into animal physiology and, as a bonus, human health and disease as well…Organ transplant. Harvested human organs kept at cold temperatures can only remain viable for a few days at most. So, how do squirrels' livers and intestines stay perfectly healthy at less than 40 degrees Fahrenheit for weeks on end? In one study, 'we found that [hibernating] squirrels maintain, in a much healthier state, the microcirculation of the liver,' Carey said [Hannah Carey, a professor in the School of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Wisconsin-Madison]. Insights into just how this happens could increase the viability and number of human organs available for transplant, she said." (Mundell 2007)

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Groundhogs, other hibernators, could aid human healthHealthDay ReporterMundell, E.J.

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