The hibernating 13-lined ground squirrel as a model organism for potential cold storage of platelets

Scott T. Cooper, Karl E. Richters, Travis E. Melin, Zhi Jian Liu, Peter J. Hordyk, Ryan R. Benrud, Lauren R. Geiser, Steve E. Cash, C. Simon Shelley, David R. Howard, Mark H. Ereth, Martha C. Sola-Visner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


Hibernating mammals have developed many physiological adaptations to extreme environments. During hibernation, 13-lined ground squirrels (Ictidomys tridecemlineatus) must suppress hemostasis to survive prolonged body temperatures of 4-8°C and 3-5 heartbeats per minute without forming lethal clots. Upon arousal in the spring, these ground squirrels must be able to quickly restore normal clotting activity to avoid bleeding. Here we show that ground squirrel platelets stored in vivo at 4-8°C were released back into the blood within 2 h of arousal in the spring with a body temperature of 37°C but were not rapidly cleared from circulation. These released platelets were capable of forming stable clots and remained in circulation for at least 2 days before newly synthesized platelets were detected. Transfusion of autologous platelets stored at 4°C or 37°C showed the same clearance rates in ground squirrels, whereas rat platelets stored in the cold had a 140-fold increase in clearance rate. Our results demonstrate that ground squirrel platelets appear to be resistant to the platelet cold storage lesions observed in other mammals, allowing prolonged storage in cold stasis and preventing rapid clearance upon spring arousal. Elucidating these adaptations could lead to the development of methods to store human platelets in the cold, extending their shelf life.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)R1202-R1208
JournalAmerican Journal of Physiology - Regulatory Integrative and Comparative Physiology
Issue number10
StatePublished - May 15 2012
Externally publishedYes


  • Hypothermia
  • Megakaryocyte
  • Microtubule
  • Thromboelastograph
  • Transfusion

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Physiology (medical)


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