Life Lines by Dr. Dolittle

Sponsored by the American Physiological Society

Nature’s Solutions

More on the uniqueness of humans when it comes to heart disease…

With Valentine’s Day just around the corner, heart-themed items seem to be everywhere. It is no surprise that I started thinking more and more about how humans are unique from other animals when it comes to heart disease. In my last entry, we talked about a few genetic variants that protect some humans from heart disease as well as the observation that many carnivores do not develop atherosclerosis, even when […]

Continue Reading →

Preventing Atherosclerosis

Researchers have identified variants in the B4GALT1 gene of Amish people that are associated with low levels of LDL (i.e. “bad”) cholesterol and fibrinogen, a gene involved in blood clotting. In fact, people with variants in this gene are 35% less likely to be diagnosed with heart disease. When the variant was expressed in mice, the animals had similar decreases in LDL cholesterol and fibrinogen. Researchers are hoping to create […]

Continue Reading →

Surviving environmental challenges

Red tides happen when dinoflagellate algae populations increase and turn the water a shade of red due their red pigments. These algae consume oxygen in the water and release carbon dioxide and other acidic products that make the surrounding water acidic and hypoxic. These events are becoming more common with climate change. In fact, the most recent event off the coast of Sothern California occurred in 2020 and resulted in […]

Continue Reading →

And a Happy New….Kidney!

Spiny mice (Acomys cahirinus) are amazing animals. For starters, they are reportedly one of the only known species to date, in addition to primates, that menstruate (McKenna et al., 2021). They are also capable of regenerating skin tissue, complete with hair follicles and blood vessels without scarring, after an injury (Siefert et al., 2012). This is an important skill for animals that escape predators by shedding their skin. Add to […]

Continue Reading →

Now featuring: Arizona Physiological Society

Now featuring the Arizona Physiological Society, who held their annual meeting October 29-30. In attendance were students, postdocs, and faculty from the Downtown, Tempe and West campuses of Arizona State University, AT Still University, Glendale University, Midwestern University, Northern Arizona University, as well as the Phoenix and Tucson campuses of the University of Arizona. The Keynote Address was given by Dr. William Karasov, from the University of Wisconsin Department of […]

Continue Reading →

Snoring seals can teach us so much about sleep apnea

When I think of sleep apnea, the first thing that comes to mind is snoring. People, and animals, that have sleep apnea periodically stop breathing when they are sleeping and wake up when their brain senses the drop in oxygen. Understandably, people with sleep apnea often feel tired and have difficulty concentrating. Just imagine having your sleep interrupted night after night. Because of the changes in blood oxygen, people with […]

Continue Reading →

Extreme Diet: The blood thirsty vampire bat

Just in time for Halloween: I came across a preprint in bioRxiv that identified 13 genes missing from vampire bats (Desmodus rotundus), but found in other bat species. Animals that drink blood, or sanguivores, have to deal with a diet that is high in protein but typically lower in fat and sugar. Many of the missing genes are thought to be related to their ability to drink blood and obtain […]

Continue Reading →

Featuring: Ohio Physiological Society, Part 2

Here are some additional highlights from the 35th annual Ohio Physiological Society conference… Elizabeth Evans (Graduate Student, University of Dayton), Dr. David Goldstein (Wright State University), and Dr. Carissa Krane (University of Dayton) presented research examining the effects of multiple freeze-thaw cycles on Cope’s Gray treefrogs (Dryophytes chrysoscelis). Yes, that’s right, I said freeze-thaw cycles. These freeze tolerant animals build up glycerol in their bodies to help survive seasonal conditions […]

Continue Reading →

Birds may stay warm with the help of red blood cells

Researchers at Lund University in Sweden were interested in understanding how birds adapted to cold weather. Birds can’t turn up the heat in their birdhouse, so it is important for them to find physiological ways to stay warm. While they can store body fat and grow more feathers for insulation, metabolism is the primary way endothermic animals create body heat. Mitochondria produce cellular energy (ATP) but can also create heat […]

Continue Reading →