Life Lines by Dr. Dolittle

Sponsored by the American Physiological Society

The great animal takeover – Recent lockdowns may shed light on the impact of humans on wildlife

The spread of Covid-19 has forced many cities to restrict social gatherings and encourage citizens to stay home. In a new study, published in Nature Ecology & Evolution, researchers have termed this unusual disruption of human movement “anthropause”. This is a unique opportunity to explore the effects of humans on wildlife. Perhaps not surprisingly, some animals seem to be emboldened by the reduction of human interactions and are more frequently […]

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Sex differences in eating after exercise

Diet and exercise are regarded as the most effective means to maintain weight as well as lose weight. But, there’s sometimes a catch as their effectiveness varies between individuals. Moreover, many people find it really difficult to keep the weight off. Researchers think this may happen in part because the body adapts to weight loss by increasing appetite and decreasing energy expenditure. Here is where exercise, in particular, is thought […]

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Avian red blood cells produce hydrogen sulfide to maintain cell integrity and longevity

Birds have strange red blood cells, at least in comparison to mammals. While they both are responsible for transporting oxygen molecules throughout the body, avian red blood cells have mitochondria and a nucleus. Mammalian red blood cells, on the other hand, are missing a nucleus as well as organelles. By eliminating these structures, mammalian red blood cells are able to carry more oxygen molecules and fold more easily to fit […]

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Getting louder costs more energy

Bats produce sounds to navigate their surroundings in a process called echolocation. The problem is that sound does not travel very well through air. To overcome this barrier, bats produce very high-intensity sounds. In fact, some bats can even produce sounds that are around 137 decibels sound pressure level (dB SPL), which is near the range that can cause hearing damage in people. Just like people, bats call at higher […]

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Llamas to the rescue?

A couple years back, we talked about how nanobodies created by camelids, such as alpacas and llamas, may lead to the discovery of new disease-fighting drugs. Aptly named, nanobodies are tiny pieces of antibodies that can bind to target proteins more easily than larger antibodies. Researchers in labs around the world are now exploring llama nanobodies for the treatment of Covid-19. Check out the video below released this month by […]

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Hypoxia improves exercise duration

Speaking of hypoxia, a new study published in Physiological Reports examined how training for 2 weeks under 18% hypoxia impacts muscles of Thoroughbred horses. Unlike humans, these horses do not increase production of red blood cells to enhance oxygen transport throughout the body under hypoxic conditions. This difference led researchers to speculate that the horses had other ways of adapting to exercise.   In the new study, horses were trained […]

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Cholesterol levels in tissues change during hypoxia in naked mole rats

Naked mole rats are rather famous from a physiological perspective for their amazing ability to live in hypoxic conditions. They do so in part by reducing their metabolic rate. In fact, researchers at the University of Ottawa in Canada showed that reducing environmental oxygen levels to 11% resulted in a 34% decrease in the animal’s metabolic rate. Studies of hypoxia-tolerant goldfish show that the animals respond to hypoxia challenges by […]

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