Life Lines by Dr. Dolittle

Sponsored by the American Physiological Society

Illnesses and Injuries

Elasmobranchs may hold clues for treating blood disorders

As you may already know, bone marrow contains cells that specialize in both bone as well as blood maintenance. Stem cells destined to become white blood cells, red blood cells and platelets are called hematopoietic stem cells (aka: HSCs). CXCL12 is a special ligand that helps keep HSCs in the bone marrow by acting as a chemical attractant for the chemokine receptor C-X-C (CXCR4) found on HSCs. Some researchers are […]

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Summer of Physiology

The Michigan Physiological Society, a chapter of the American Physiological Society, held their annual meeting this summer.  Here are some highlights from the meeting: The keynote address was given by Dr. Virginia Miller, Professor of Surgery and Physiology and Director of the Women’s Health Research Center, Mayo Clinic, Rochester, MN. Her talk was about “Sex-specific Differences in Risk for Cardiovascular Disease.” Specifically, how estrogen, menopause and pregnancy influence the risk […]

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Cancer resistance in elephants explained

  Research has shown that <5% of elephants succumb to cancer. This is remarkable as elephants are massive, meaning they have more cells to replicate on a regular basis than humans. One would think having so many cells would increase the risk of these cells dividing improperly, especially considering that captive elephants can live for about 70 years. It has been known for several years that elephants have 20 copies […]

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Ants ‘nurse’ their injured

A study conducted at the University of Lausanne in Switzerland shows that Matabele ants, Megaponera analis, lick wounds their comrades sustain while hunting termites. It is thought that this “nurse”-like behavior may help prevent infection as ants receiving such care are more likely to survive: Sources: Youtube / New Scientist Frank ET, Wehrhahn M, Linsenmair KE. Wound treatment and selective help in a termite-hunting ant. Proceedings of the Royal Society B, DOI: 10.1098/rspb.2017.2457  

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Sleep vs torpor

  I read an interesting review article published in Physiology comparing the low metabolic states of non-rapid eye movement sleep (NREM) and torpor. According to the article, all mammals experience NREM sleep patterns during which energy expenditure is decreased and body as well as brain temperatures decline. Animals that experience torpor (hummingbirds, arctic ground squirrels, some mice, bears, etc) have reduced metabolic rates and body temperatures that dip below baseline. NREM […]

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Seals have anti-inflammatory blood

Dr. Allyson Hindle from Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, presented some interesting research on seals at the Experimental Biology conference this week in San Diego. Seals are known for being rather plump, which for humans often leads to inflammation and cardiovascular disease. In addition, seals undergo repeated bouts of hypoxia and reoxygenation during their dives, which is also known to promote inflammation and cardiovascular disease in humans. Her research team […]

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