Life Lines by Dr. Dolittle

Sponsored by the American Physiological Society

Diet and Exercise

People with diabetes have less sRAGE

When blood sugar concentrations are elevated, humans run the risk of glucose binding to proteins in the blood and causing the irreversible formation of advanced glycation end products (AGE). Once formed, AGEs can bind to their receptor (RAGE) and stimulate inflammation and oxidative stress. This pathological signaling can be stopped by pieces of the RAGE protein that break off and form a soluble version called sRAGE. These soluble versions of […]

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Do Mexican cavefish hold the secret to treating diabetes?

Mexican tetra (Astyanax mexicanus) are a fascinating example of divergent evolution. Over time, some of these freshwater river fish washed into caves where they continue to live. With perpetual darkness, these cavefish have lost their ability to see along with their skin pigmentation. Oxygen and food are also hard to come by in the caves. In fact, the cave dwelling fish may go for months without eating as they wait […]

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Benefits to being furry, but not fat, in a cold environment

To deal with cold environments, mammals have several options. They could produce heat by increasing metabolism or shivering or they could conserve heat by constricting blood vessels in their skin or snuggling with a friend or insulating materials. With this in mind, researchers wondered how varying levels of insulation (obesity, fur) in mice affected heat loss and how much energy the animals used to maintain body heat. Their thinking was […]

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Is your pet overweight?

A new study conducted by the Banfield Pet Hospital (Vancouver, Washington) reports that as many as 1 in 3 dogs and cats living in the United States are overweight. The study was based on data collected by Banfield veterinary clinics on 2.5 million dogs and half a million cats over the past year. Obesity in pets was not related to the weight status of their owners. In fact, overweight pets were less prevalent in states whose populations […]

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Walking your dog is good for your health, and theirs

A new study shows that walking your dog is good for your health. Here is a YouTube video summarizing the findings of the study: Let’s not forget that walking your dog is also very good for your dog. According to PetMD, some benefits include weight control, keeping your dog limber, controlling destructive behaviors and hyperactivity, and of course building a bond between you and your pet. If you have a […]

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Meet the amazing and ‘ew’-inspiring Pacific hagfish

Pacific hagfish (Eptatretus stoutii), aka “slime eels”, are primitive fish that occupy burrows on the ocean floor. Like earthworms, they have 5 hearts. They have no true eyes, no jaws, nor do they have a stomach. They locate their meals through great senses of smell and touch. In addition to small invertebrates, they are known for consuming carrion that fall to the ocean floor. By consume, I mean burrow into […]

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Improving endurance exercise

  We all know that aerobic exercise is good for us because it helps improve muscle function and our ability to move well. For fish, aerobic exercise helps animals escape predators, catch prey as well as improve reproduction success. When we exercise, our muscles adapt by altering the metabolism of energy, the way calcium is handled as well as the type of contractile proteins present in the muscle. Together these changes […]

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Why flamingos stand on one leg

Scientists think they have discovered the reason why flamingos (Phoenicopteridae) stand on one leg. In a new study published in Biology Letters scientists studied both live flamingos and carcasses. What they found was that standing on leg requires less energy or effort than standing on both legs. In fact, the researchers found carcasses could be made to stand on one leg quite easily. As stated in the article: “By contrast, the cadaveric flamingo could not […]

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Obesity gene found in Labrador retrievers

Researchers at the University of Cambridge in Britain recently studied ‘willpower’ in pet Labrador retrievers. After allowing each dog to smell a hot dog, the researchers placed the hot dog in a hamster cage and sealed it shut with duct tape. While some dogs showed only mild interest in the sealed-up hot dog, others were fixated on the out-of-reach treat. One dog, named Ash, broke apart the contraption to obtain the treat. This […]

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