• Molecular changes induced by a centrally-induced state of synthetic torpor in multiple organs:a new strategy for radioprotection.
  • Piscitiello, Emiliana <1993>


  • BIO/09 Fisiologia


  • Torpor is a successful survival strategy displayed by several mammalian species to cope with harsh environmental conditions. A complex interplay of ambient, genetic and circadian stimuli acts centrally to induce a severe suppression of metabolic rate, usually followed by an apparently undefended reduction of body temperature. Some animals, such as marmots, are able to maintain this physiological state for months (hibernation), during which torpor bouts are periodically interrupted by short interbouts of normothermia (arousals). Interestingly, torpor adaptations have been shown to be associated with a large resistance towards stressors, such as radiation: indeed, if irradiated during torpor, hibernators can tolerate higher doses of radiation, showing an increased survival rate. New insights for radiotherapy and long-term space exploration could arise from the induction of torpor in non-hibernators, like humans. The present research project is centered on synthetic torpor (ST), a hypometabolic/hypothermic condition induced in a non-hibernator, the rat, through the pharmacological inhibition of the Raphe Pallidus, a key brainstem area controlling thermogenic effectors. By exploiting this procedure, this thesis aimed at: i) providing a multiorgan description of the functional cellular adaptations to ST; ii) exploring the possibility, and the underpinning molecular mechanisms, of enhanced radioresistance induced by ST. To achieve these aims, transcriptional and histological analysis have been performed in multiple organs of synthetic torpid rats and normothermic rats, either exposed or not exposed to 3 Gy total body of X-rays. The results showed that: i) similarly to natural torpor, ST induction leads to the activation of survival and stress resistance responses, which allow the organs to successfully adapt to the new homeostasis; ii) ST provides tissue protection against radiation damage, probably mainly through the cellular adaptations constitutively induced by ST, even though the triggering of specific responses when the animal is irradiated during hypothermia might play a role.


  • 2023-03-30
  • info:eu-repo/date/embargoEnd/2025-12-25


  • Doctoral Thesis
  • PeerReviewed


  • application/pdf



Piscitiello, Emiliana (2023) Molecular changes induced by a centrally-induced state of synthetic torpor in multiple organs:a new strategy for radioprotection., [Dissertation thesis], Alma Mater Studiorum Università di Bologna. Dottorato di ricerca in Scienze biomediche e neuromotorie , 35 Ciclo.