Life Lines by Dr. Dolittle

Sponsored by the American Physiological Society

Diet and Exercise

The Integrative Biology of Exercise VII – Day 2

Mitochondria produce more than just ATP Pinchas Cohen from the University of California – Davis presented data showing that mitochondria produce more than just ATP. They also make several peptides that can each affect our physiology. Some help cells respond to insulin better, some help with weight, some regulate cell metabolism. What is even more impressive is that some of these peptides have been shown to slow down the development […]

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The Integrative Biology of Exercise VII – Day 1

The opening session was great! Eric Hoffman (Children’s National Medical Center) presented work on chronic inflammatory diseases in children. He mentioned that while diets high in fats and carbohydrates (i.e. Western diets), obesity and sedentary lifestyles are associated with inflammation and related diseases (ex: asthma, type 2 diabetes), another contributor could be hormones. Kids who stay indoors more often have reduced exposure to sunlight and exercise less. This may alter the normal biological clock of […]

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Using feces to identify species

According to a press release from Northern Arizona University, Drs. Faith Walker and Carol Chambers at the Bat Ecology & Genetics Lab have developed a system called Species From Feces to identify bat species from guano collected in field locations such as mines, caves, bridges, etc. The system takes advantage of DNA sequencing technology and an assay to look for genetic identifiers unique to different species using DNA barcodes. The sequences can then […]

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Preventing muscle wasting in space?

I recently went on a trip to visit the Endeavour space shuttle currently on display in Los Angeles. Seeing the shuttle up close brought back memories of watching the space shuttle launches on TV and the childhood dream of visiting other planets…a dream that also inspires Hollywood to continue to produce movies and TV shows about space exploration. Turns out, The Martian movie may soon become reality. In fact, NASA is working towards sending astronauts to […]

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Ceramides cause rainbow trout to eat less

Ceramides are a type of sphingolipid composed of both fatty acids and sphingosine that are important in maintaining the structure of cell membranes and cell signaling pathways. Given their structure, it is perhaps not surprising that levels of ceramide are increased in the brains of mammals after eating a diet high in fats as well as in individuals who are obese.  In mammals, ceramides are also known to help regulate food intake. Since rainbow trout (Oncorhynchus […]

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Physiology 2016

I am very excited to report that the American Physiological Society in partnership with The Physiological Society held a joint meeting from July 29-31 in Dublin, Ireland. The keynote lectures were given by Dr. Jerry Friedman from Rockefeller University and Dr. W Jon Lederer from the University of Maryland.   Dr. Friedman spoke about his research on obesity and how genetic factors might play a role. In fact, his team was […]

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How the rectum helps prevent dehydration in saltwater

Teleost fish living in saltwater environments are constantly compensating for water loss. This happens because their surroundings have higher concentrations of salts than their plasma and the rule of thumb in Biology is: water follows salt.  Thus these fish must somehow compensate for water loss in order to prevent dehydration. One way they do this is by drinking a lot of water. Ions are then removed from the water in the intestines which […]

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Male hamsters pack on the pounds while females stockpile food for winter

During hibernation common hamsters (Cricetus cricetus) alternate their time between bouts of torpor during which their metabolic rate drops and body temperature is low and arousal during which body temperature is normal. Hibernation allows animals to conserve energy although it is not without costs as it often results in memory deficits, cell damage and reduced immune function. Thus some studies have suggested that animals with sufficient food stores will not undergo hibernation […]

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Muscle Aging in American Quarter horses

Skeletal muscle function and structure change as we age. Humans typically experience a loss of muscle mass or muscle weakness which can greatly reduce mobility and stability. While much is known about aging skeletal muscle in humans and rodents, less is known about horses, which are rather athletic animals that are living longer due to advancements in veterinary care and retirement programs. Researchers from the University of Florida decided to explore how aging effects skeletal […]

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Cartilaginous fish need to regulate sulfate too

Seawater contains sulfate concentrations that are nearly 40 times those measured in plasma. Therefore, it is easy to see why fish would need to develop mechanisms to keep sulfate within a physiologically normal range. The kidneys of teleost fish have been known to excrete excess sulfate in the urine. However until now, it was not known whether the kidneys of cartilaginous fish do the same thing as their kidneys are rather complex. In a new […]

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