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Cell Biology International (2001) 25, 131–138 (Printed in Great Britain)
M. Malatestaab,f1, S. Battistellia, M.B.L. Rocchic, C. Zancanarodb, S. Fakanb and G. Gazzanellia
aInstitute of Histology and Laboratory Analyses, University of Urbino, I-61029, Urbino, Italy
cInstitute of Biomathematics, University of Urbino, I-61029, Urbino, Italy
dInstitute of Anatomy and Histology, University of Verona, I-37134, Verona, Italy
bCentre of Electron Microscopy, University of Lausanne, CH-1005, Lausanne, Switzerland


An ultrastructural and morphometric study was performed on mitochondria of euthermic, hibernating and arousing hazel dormice (Muscardinus avellanarius), in order to investigate possible modifications during the seasonal cycle. Hepatocytes, pancreatic acinar cells and brown adipocytes were considered. Our results demonstrated that: (1) the general morphology of mitochondria of all cell types shows slight modifications during the seasonal cycle; (2) mitochondrial size and inner membrane length significantly increase from euthermia to hibernation and decrease upon arousal in all cell types; (3) mitochondrial matrix granules drastically increase in number during hibernation and decrease upon arousal in hepatocytes and pancreatic acinar cells, whereas they do not change in brown adipocytes. These structural modifications are probably related to the changes in cellular energy needs during the euthermia–hibernation–arousal cycle.

Keywords: hazel dormouse, hibernation, mitochondria, ultrastructure.

f1To whom correspondence should be addressed: Dr Manuela Malatesta, Istituto di Istologia e Analisi di Laboratorio, University of Urbino, via Zeppi, 61029 Urbino (PS), Italy.


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Received 20 September 1999; accepted 2 May 2000


ISSN Print: 1065-6995
ISSN Electronic: 1095-8355
Published by Portland Press Limited on behalf of the International Federation for Cell Biology (IFCB)