Life Lines by Dr. Dolittle

Sponsored by the American Physiological Society

Aging

Aging and Immortality

Have you ever heard of the ‘immortal’ jellyfish, Turritopsis dohrnii? These tiny creatures (about 4.5 mm) are aptly named for their ability to essentially live forever. According to the Natural History Museum, when these jellyfish are damaged, they can actually revert to a prior life cycle as a polyp and become an adult jellyfish (aka, medusa) all over again. This process is called transdifferentiation. Check out this video from the […]

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Causes and consequences of stiff arteries

In a new review article published in Physiology, researchers speculate that arterial stiffness in middle-aged adults may actually be the body’s way of trying to compensate for widening of the blood vessel walls as we age. But that benefit turns into a risk with aging as it increases the flow of blood into organs like the brain, kidney, and heart and damages the small blood vessels in those organs. Interestingly, […]

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Domestic zebrafish are less plastic

Zebrafish have been used in medical research since at least the 1970’s as their anatomy, physiology, as well as genetics are similar to humans. Other advantages to studying zebrafish is that they are inexpensive to raise, and they reproduce well in captivity. The ability to adjust one’s physiology in response to varying environments is called plasticity. An organism may encounter any number of environmental fluctuations (light/dark, temperatures, predation risk, noise, […]

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Buoyancy and Balance

Existing species of coelacanths (pictured above) are descendants of a group of fish that existed about 410 million years ago, during the early Devonian period. They can be found in the Western Indian Ocean off the coast of Indonesia. These fish are really interesting because they have very low metabolic rates. In fact, their metabolism is among the lowest of any other existing vertebrate. Even sloths are jealous of their […]

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Geriatric bees

Jacob Pithan, a graduate student in the laboratory of Dr. Kendra Greenlee (North Dakota State University), presented their research examining how aging affects exercise performance as well as oxidative health at last month’s Experimental Biology conference in Philadelphia. The oxidative stress theory of aging postulates that aging results from an overproduction of free radicals along with a decrease in antioxidants that can scavenge them. The problem with free radicals is […]

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EB 2022: Modeling human diseases and healthy aging

I sat through a very interesting session at this year’s Experimental Biology conference called, “The Power of Comparative Models for Accelerating Translational Healthspan Research: Underutilized Lab Animals, Companion Pets, Old World Monkeys, and Pumas.” While the title seems to capture the general idea of the symposium, I thought I would share a bit more information about the presenters and their exciting research. Dr. Karyn Hamilton from Colorado State University presented […]

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Hibernation slows down aging

I don’t know about you, but when I see an article claiming to be able to explain “The Biology of Beauty Sleep”, I simply have to read it. Clicking on the title brought me to a news article from the journal Nature Ecology & Evolution that featured a recent study examining the idea of how sleep impacts aging. The burning question of course is whether or not there is any […]

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Understanding genetic factors contributing to COPD

According to a study published in the American Journal of Physiology – Regulatory, Integrative and Comparative Physiology, we have a lot in common with fruit flies when it comes to the layer of cells that line our airways. So much so, that researchers claim Drosophila melanogaster are important models for lung diseases such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). COPD is a debilitating disease that claimed the lives of over […]

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Secrets to rockfish longevity revealed

Rockfish have gained the attention of scientists due to their exceptional longevity. Researchers at the University of California, Berkeley sequenced the complete genome of 88 species of rockfish in the Pacific Ocean to try to find clues that could explain their longevity. While some are rather short-lived (ex: calico rockfish, Sebastes dallii, only live around 10 years), longer-lived species, like rougheye rockfish (Sebastes aleutianus), can live to be over 200 […]

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Scientists create personalized stem cells from skin to treat Parkinson’s Disease

Parkinson’s disease is a progressive degenerative disorder that targets the nervous system, mainly dopamine neurons, and impairs muscle movements. As the disease progresses, it can also lead to depression and other neurological symptoms. Current treatments are limited to improving symptoms but are not able to cure the disease. A recent study published in Nature Medicine tested whether stem cells could reverse symptoms associated with Parkinson’s disease. Rather than using fetal […]

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