Life Lines by Dr. Dolittle

Sponsored by the American Physiological Society

Comparative Physiology

Experimental Biology 2019

The annual 2019 Experimental Biology conference starts in 2 days! I am looking forward to the myriad of comparative physiology sessions at this year’s meeting. Sunday will feature trainee presentations on a variety of topics ranging from how the gut microbiome shifts in ground squirrels with the seasons, insulin resistance in horses, and muscle performance of lizards. Monday will be a jam-packed day filled with topics on how ectotherms regulate […]

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Dogs can sniff out epileptic seizures

A new study published by researchers at the University of Rennes in France shows that epileptic seizures produce a distinct body odor profile that can be detected by dogs, opening up the possibility of training the animals to predict (and warn their owners about) these types of seizures. Sources: Video: YouTube Catala A, Grandgeorge M, Schaff J-L, Cousillas H, Hausberger M, Cattet J. Dogs demonstrate the existence of an epileptic […]

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PUFAs change muscle characteristics in a migratory bird without improving flight performance

Migratory birds are undoubtedly endurance athletes. In fact, their flights last hours to days. Could you imagine? But, unlike mammals that fuel endurance exercise by burning carbohydrates, birds fuel their endurance flights with fat. In a new study published in the American Journal of Physiology – Regulatory, Integrative and Comparative Physiology, researchers were curious about whether the TYPE of dietary fat used to fuel endurance exercise was important. To examine this […]

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Historical perspectives on homeostasis

In a new article published in the American Journal of Physiology – Regulatory, Integrative and Comparative Physiology, Dr. David S. Goldstein (National Institutes of Health) presents an elegant historical perspective on homeostasis. Walter B. Cannon (1871-1945) was a physiologist at Harvard Medical School who is credited with coining the term “homeostasis” to describe how the body attempts to regulate itself to stay healthy. The ability for the body to regulate the […]

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Do octopuses (and other animals) dream?

Video captured by Rebecca Otey (via YouTube) at the Butterfly Pavilion in Colorado seems to suggest that perhaps octopuses dream in their sleep: Although it is not clear whether octopuses really are dreaming when they change colors in their sleep, researchers at the World Science Festival in 2011 discussed work studying changes in brain activity of animals during sleep compared to wakefulness to gauge whether they may be dreaming:  

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Carnivorous fish are glucose intolerant

Who would have thought that carnivorous fish, like the gilthead sea bream pictured above, and people with diabetes have a lot in common? These fish are glucose intolerant, meaning they are not able to use glucose for energy very well. When these fish are given carbohydrates, their blood sugar increases as does their ability to produce fats through lipogenesis. The purpose of this increase may be to store the excess […]

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Sleep = better DNA repair

I read an interesting article published in Nature Communications that described how zebrafish larvae need sleep to help fix damaged DNA that accumulates in their brains during the day. The researchers engineered zebrafish larvae to have fluorescent chromosomes in a single neuron, which allowed them to observe double-strand breaks in the DNA build-up during wakefulness. In contrast, chromosome activity necessary for repair increased when the animals were sleeping. If the researchers disrupted […]

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