Life Lines by Dr. Dolittle

Sponsored by the American Physiological Society

Diet and Exercise

Meet the star (nosed) of the show

Dr. Kenneth Catania from Vanderbilt University presented his work with star-nosed moles at the Experimental Biology meeting last month in Chicago. These animals are really cool. Here are some facts from Dr. Catania about these crazy-looking creatures you may not know: If participating in a bug-eating contest, they would win hands down every time because they are the fastest-eating mammal known. In fact, they can identify and consume a bug in a record […]

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Experimental Biology – Day 3

Highlights from today’s sessions included: Norelia Ordonez-Castillo, undergraduate student from Fort Hays State University, presented her research on channel catfish. According to Norelia, these fish can become obese so her research was geared towards trying to find out how their receptor for LDL cholesterol differs from rodents and humans. But what I want to know is whether the obese catfish tastes better… Christine Schwartz, Investigator from University of Wisconsin-La Crosse, studied how […]

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Experimental Biology – Day 2

Yesterday was a great day for comparative physiology! Highlights from the seminars on comparative physiology: Melissa Reiterer, graduate student from Florida Atlantic University, presented her research on how freshwater turtles (Trachemys scripta) survive for long periods of time without oxygen and do not develop oxidative stress after oxygen is restored. The turtles are able to do this by creating their own antioxidants as well as eliminating oxidative stress. In contrast, mammals including humans, develop […]

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Obese rhesus monkeys develop diabetes too

A new study published in American Journal of Physiology – Endocrinology and Metabolism shows that rhesus monkeys (Macaca mulatta) who spontaneously develop obesity with aging are prone to insulin resistance and diabetes, similar to humans. The major goal of insulin is to lower blood sugar after eating a meal. In line with this goal, muscles respond to insulin by taking up large amounts of the sugar. Similarly, insulin blocks the breakdown of glucose […]

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What do frogs and humans have in common?

Leptin is a hormone that signals the brain to suppress appetite in humans. While researchers at the University of Michigan described a similar appetite regulating role for leptin in South African clawed frogs (Xenopus), they also discovered that leptin signals limb development in tadpoles. They suspect that this happens once there are sufficient energy stores to begin the process of metamorphosis. Shalitin and Kiess (2017) also described a role for leptin in skeletal development of children and researchers implicate leptin in […]

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Growing meaty fish

Similar to humans, muscle growth in fish is increased with exercise. Unlike humans, however, teleost fish are able to continue growing in length as well as weight throughout their lives. This type of meat, I mean muscle, growth happens in two ways: 1) muscle cells get bigger and 2) new muscle cells form. Researchers at the University of Barcelona in Spain wanted to know what effect moderate sustained swimming would have on the muscles of young […]

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The ultimate desalination plant: the eel esophagus

I love fish. The diversity of these aquatic creatures is so vast, I find them fascinating. Take the eel for example: In a study published this month in the American Journal of Physiology – Regulatory, Integrative and Comparative Physiology, researchers wanted to link information they learned from sequencing the RNA of eels with understanding how the animals adapt to saline environments. During acclimation to saltwater, fish have no choice but […]

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The cause of stomach rumbling

The stomach and small intestine of many species moves rhythmically during fasting, something called the rhythmic ‘migrating motor complex’, or MMC. The MMC has 3 phases: no contraction, intermittent small contractions followed by regular large contractions. These contractions are thought to help clean the GI tract by moving along debris and bacteria as well as preparing our guts for the next meal. They are also the cause of ‘stomach rumbles’ when we are hungry. If […]

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Why orcas go through menopause

Orcas are one of only three species of mammals that go through menopause, including humans of course. A new study published in Current Biology may have discovered why this happens in killer whales. Examination of 43 years worth of data collected by the Center for Whale Research and Fisheries and Oceans Canada, revealed a remarkable finding about the costs of reproduction in orcas. Older mothers tend to spend more time taking care […]

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