Life Lines by Dr. Dolittle

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Illnesses and Injuries

Bioaccumulation of metals in sharks

A new study highlights the impact of metal accumulation (cobalt, manganese, nickel, copper, iron and mercury) on the health of twenty individual sharks representing 8 species that were accidentally caught by fisheries in Brazil. Necropsies of the animals showed high levels of metals in the liver, gills and rectal glands. Perhaps not surprisingly, larger animals had more accumulation of the metals in their gills than smaller animals. Higher accumulation in […]

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A whale shark’s superpower: Healing

Da-dum, da-dum…that’s right! Shark week is back!! It starts tonight on Discovery channel. Grab some popcorn, it’s going to be a wild ride! To kick off the week in our own way, I found this interesting study that examined wound healing in whale sharks, the world’s largest fish. These animals often exhibit scars resulting from collisions with boats and new research shows they have impressive wound healing capabilities. In the […]

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Experimental Biology 2021: Q&A with Molly Simonis

We are delighted to speak with Molly Simonis who is currently a PhD Candidate working with Dr. Lynn Hartzler at Wright State University. Molly is a member of the Comparative and Evolutionary Physiology section of the American Physiological Society and she presented her research “Captive Big Brown Bats (Eptesicus fuscus) Display Hypothermia and Hypometabolism” at the 2021 Experimental Biology conference last month. Q: What made you interested in studying big brown […]

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2021 August Krogh Distinguished Lectureship

The August Krogh Distinguished Lectureship is the highest award given by the Comparative and Evolutionary Physiology section of the American Physiological Society. As the name implies, it is awarded to a distinguished physiologist who has made major and meritorious contributions to the field. This year’s August Krogh Distinguished Lecture was awarded to Dr. Ken Olson, Emeritus Professor, Indiana University School of Medicine – South Bend. His talk at the Experimental […]

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Towards developing treatments for inflammation

Neutrophils are specialized immune cells that becomes activated in response to foreign particles or microorganisms. Think of them like security guards in your body. As they travel through the blood, their job is to detect and get rid of invading microorganisms. They also help spark inflammation responses to infections. For these reasons, they are known to help maintain homeostasis in the body, but they can also play roles in disease […]

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New research working towards preventing and treating necrotizing enterocolitis in premature babies

Necrotizing enterocolitis is an inflammatory disease of the intestines. New research suggests that premature babies are at risk of necrotizing enterocolitis in part because they have low levels of arachidonic and docosahexanoic acids in their gut, which regulate inflammation. Doctors routinely administer nutritional supplements to premature babies via an intravenous (i.v.) route until the gastrointestinal tract develops and the babies are able to process oral foods. This parenteral nutrition helps […]

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Metabolic costs of reproduction, eating, and increasing temperatures

Planarians are rather cute little flatworms, although they tend to wreak havoc in fish tanks. Researchers have long been fascinated by their ability to regenerate body parts when injured with the help of adult stem cells. More recently, they have gained attention for their ability to survive long periods of time without eating by “degrowing”, i.e. getting smaller but still keeping their shape and functions intact. I would shrink too […]

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Resisting bird flu

I just read an interesting article from the Max Delbruck Center for Molecular Medicine in the Helmholtz Association that explained why human cells are typically quite resistant to bird flu. Bird flu (H5N1, H7N9, H5N6) does not readily spread between infected humans. In fact, most outbreaks involve only a handful to a few hundred individuals. But, on occasion, the infection can spread more easily leading to a pandemic. New research […]

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Sniffing out cancer?

I just saw an interesting review article published in Physiological Reviews that discussed the presence of olfactory (i.e. smell) receptors located outside of the nose. Say what? It turns out that these “smell” receptors are not unique to our nostrils. In fact they are found throughout our bodies. Those found in the heart may be responsible for regulating heart function, those in the immune system are thought to help destroy types […]

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Porcine heart donors

Have you heard about the research being conducted to improve the use of pig hearts for human transplants?  A recent article from Discover Magazine reported on a study in which researchers were able to keep a baboon alive for 6 months with a transplanted pig heart. While pig hearts are similar to primate hearts, a major problem with xenotransplantation is that they are not only bigger to begin with, they […]

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