Life Lines by Dr. Dolittle

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Diet and Exercise

Editor’s picks for 2018

The Editor’s Picks for 2018 have been released for the American Journal of Physiology – Regulatory, Integrative and Comparative Physiology. According to the editorial team, the focus of this journal is on “the regulation of whole organismal function that requires the interplay of multiple organ and tissue systems.” The top comparative physiology articles of 2018 included: An article by Hersh et al., who provided evidence that little skates may be useful […]

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Birds have a unique way of preventing muscle wasting

Muscle wasting is a major complication associated with cirrhosis and liver failure. Normally the liver functions to convert ammonia into urea. But with liver failure, this process does not work well leading to high levels of circulating ammonia, which is thought to contribute to muscle wasting in mammals. A new study published in the American Journal of Physiology – Regulatory, Integrative and Comparative Physiology, explored whether birds have the same muscle wasting […]

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A mother’s diet can have a lasting impact on offspring

A new study published in Physiological Reports provides evidence that a mother’s diet during pregnancy could have lasting impacts on her offspring’s bone development and later risk of osteoporosis. Osteoporosis is characterized by a loss of trabecular (spongy) bone leading to increased risk for developing bone fractures.  The researchers discovered this relationship while studying female microswine that were consuming a diet containing only 1% protein late in their pregnancy and for […]

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Lactate directly increases breathing

Hypoxic environments increase ventilation in animals. This helps to bring in more oxygen when environmental levels may be limited. With limited oxygen availability, the body turns to anaerobic metabolism, resulting in the production of lactate ions. These ions are known to indirectly stimulate breathing by lowering blood pH and were more recently discovered to directly stimulate the carotid body to increase breathing. For this reason, lactate ions are thought to […]

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Highlights from EB 2019

There were so many poster presentations on comparative and evolutionary physiology today at the 2019 Experimental Biology conference that it was impossible to see them all. Here are some highlights: Dr. Michael Hedrick from California State University – East Bay, presented his research on African cheetahs (Acinonyx jubatus) examining adaptations that cheetahs have evolved to supply their muscles with oxygen so efficiently, given they maintain the world record for being […]

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Obese Horses

Abigail Harms, an undergraduate student at Beloit College working with Dr. Kathryn Johnson, also presented her research today at the Experimental Biology 2019 conference examining the effects of obesity in horses. Just like humans and pets, horses are increasingly becoming obese. Her research is seeking ways to measure hormonal changes that occur with obesity in different breeds of horses.  

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Mourning doves do not need to watch their figures

So jealous. Research presented by Anthony Basile, graduate student in the laboratory of Dr. Karen Sweazea at Arizona State University, at Experimental Biology 2019 examined how mourning doves would respond to a diet high in saturated fats. He reported on how mice fed a similar diet develop pathological changes in hormones and metabolism, as would be expected. But, doves fed a similar diet did not seem to show any notable […]

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Dietary carotenoids and oxidative stress- What can we learn from birds?

Congratulations to this year’s Dr. Dolittle Travel Award winner, Alex Mohr from Arizona State University! Alex is presenting his research at the annual Experimental Biology conference in Orlando, FL (Mohr AE, Girard M, Rowe M, McGraw KJ, Sweazea KL. Varied Effects of Dietary Carotenoid Supplementation on Oxidative Damage in Tissues of Two Waterfowl Species).  Here is his award-winning blog entry describing his research on carotenoids in ducks: In relation to tissue […]

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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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