Life Lines by Dr. Dolittle

Sponsored by the American Physiological Society

Comparative Physiology

Alcoholic Fish

As I prepare to leave the great city of New Orleans at the end of a fabulous conference, I can’t help but mention one final poster that I saw titled, “Depressing mitochondrial function during paradoxical anaerobism leads to an alcoholic fish.” It seemed appropriate given our conference hotel was on Bourbon Street. This poster, presented by Dr. Stanley Hillyard (University of Nevada – Las Vegas) examined desert pupfish (Cyprinodon spp). […]

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What do hibernating animals and astronauts have in common?

Well, nothing yet…but imagine the possibilities of human spaceflight if we could put people into a form of stasis? While short term stasis-like states have been used in medical settings, the idea of putting people into stasis to allow long term space travel – without intensive physician oversight, remains a major goal of space agencies and companies like Spaceworks (above). Scientists at the Comparative Physiology meeting considered this very question, […]

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Dangers of eating greens

Dr. Kevin Kohl (University of Pittsburgh) gave an interesting talk at the conference on the various dangers of eating plants. Aside from having low protein content and large quantities of indigestible fibers, plants are great sources of toxic chemicals. Remarkably, many animals have evolved to eat plants that may be toxic to other animals. Research by Dr. Kohl suggests that the gut microbiome of these animals may have evolved to […]

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Improving tissue integrity for transplants

Ground squirrels are known for their remarkable ability to tolerate hypothermic conditions. Humans are not. Dr. JingXing Ou (National Institutes of Health) presented an interesting talk that explored using induced pluripotent neuronal stem cells isolated from these mammalian hibernators to improve tissue integrity for organ transplants. By understanding which pathways protected ground squirrel cells from cold-damage, these pathways could be manipulated in human induced pluripotent neuronal stem cells and improve […]

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Longevity of dogs

Dogs are weird when it comes to predicting longevity based on body size. For many species, small body size means higher metabolic rate and shorter lifespan. For dogs, smaller body size = longer lifespan. Dr. Ana Jimenez (Colgate University) presented research at the Comparative Physiology meeting this weekend showing that larger dogs do indeed develop more DNA damage with aging than smaller dogs.

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Hypoxia and anoxia and reoxygenation, Oh my!

There are many examples of animals that can naturally tolerate hypoxic and anoxic conditions without exhibiting pathologies associated with reoxygenation. Here are a few examples from this year’s conference: Dr. Anthony Signore (University of Nebraska) spoke about how some hypoxia tolerant animals can use carbon monoxide, you know that gas we think of as poisonous, to improve oxygen binding to hemoglobin in hypoxic conditions. Well known for their ability to […]

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