Life Lines by Dr. Dolittle

Sponsored by the American Physiological Society

Nature’s Solutions

Evolving to thrive on land

Scientists Xueping Wang, Deidra M. Balchak, Clayton Gentilcore, Nathan L. Clark, and Ossama B. Kashlan from the University of Pittsburgh are presenting their research today on how sodium channels evolved as animals moved onto land at the 9th Aldosterone and ENaC in Health and Disease: The Kidney and Beyond Conference in Colorado. Sodium channels found in epithelial cells (ENaCs) are very important in regulating salt and water balance especially in the […]

Continue Reading →

Researchers from around the world are discussing salt regulation and its role in hypertension and other diseases

The American Physiological Society is currently hosting the 9th Aldosterone and ENaC in Health and Disease: The Kidney and Beyond Conference in Estes Park, Colorado (October 2-6, 2019). The conference is geared towards researchers who are interested in epithelial sodium channels (ENaC) as well as the hormone aldosterone and their roles in kidney function and blood pressure regulation. Epithelial cells are found throughout the body (see table below) and are really important in […]

Continue Reading →

Adapting (or not) to increasing temperatures

Birds are not the only animals experiencing massive declines in populations. Rising temperatures and heat waves, in particular, have been blamed for killing humans and animals. In fact, a new review article published in Physiology mentioned that globally, heat is “a significant natural killer of humans, with the first decade of the 21st Century seeing a 23-fold increase in human casualties from heat waves compared with the 1990s.” If current predictions hold true, […]

Continue Reading →

Ohio talks about physiology and disease

Researchers from around the state of Ohio met today at the 34th annual Ohio Physiological Society meeting to discuss their research. Although many of the presentations were not on comparative physiology topics, I found some particularly interesting and thought I would share them with you anyway. Here goes: Dr. Katherine Vest and her research team (Kierra Ware, Yu Zhang, Thomas Whitlow) from the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine presented their research on […]

Continue Reading →

Remarkable hypoxia and cold tolerance of rodents native to the Tibetan plateau

The plateau zokor (Eospalax baileyi) is an underground dwelling rodent species native to the Tibetan plateau (2000-4200 meters in elevation). A new study published in the American Journal of Physiology – Regulatory, Integrative and Comparative Physiology explored how these animals were adapted to extract oxygen from an environment with very low levels (83-88% of atmospheric). Hemoglobin molecules found in red blood cells are responsible for binding oxygen and transporting it to tissues […]

Continue Reading →

High altitude deer mice have less stress?

Animals that live at high altitude have evolved a number of physiological adaptations to deal with the low atmospheric oxygen concentrations (hypoxia). For low altitude acclimated animals, short exposures to high altitude results in activation of the sympathetic nervous system (i.e. the fight or flight response). This is a good thing because activation of this system results in more blood flow, especially to the heart and brain to help protect oxygen […]

Continue Reading →

Did you know just how interesting shark rectal glands could be?

In case you missed Shark Week this year, I thought I would mention a cool fact about dogfish sharks (Squalus acanthias) that you probably did not learn about. I read an interesting article from a lecture given by Dr. John N Forrest Jr, M.D. that was published in 2016 in Transactions of the American Clinical and Climatological Association. Sharks have a complicated system for regulating water and salt balance in the […]

Continue Reading →

Rapid switches in metabolism of hibernating animals

  In a new study published in the American Journal of Physiology – Regulatory, Integrative and Comparative Physiology, researchers examined how changes in metabolism during torpor are regulated in 13-lined ground squirrels (Ictidomys tridecemlineatus). During hibernation, these animals cycle between bouts of torpor (about 2 weeks each) when their metabolism is reduced by 95% and body temperature can drop to 5degC and short states of interbout euthermia when both temperature […]

Continue Reading →

Editor’s picks for 2018

The Editor’s Picks for 2018 have been released for the American Journal of Physiology – Regulatory, Integrative and Comparative Physiology. According to the editorial team, the focus of this journal is on “the regulation of whole organismal function that requires the interplay of multiple organ and tissue systems.” The top comparative physiology articles of 2018 included: An article by Hersh et al., who provided evidence that little skates may be useful […]

Continue Reading →

Chronic pain after an injury

A new study published in Science Advances reveals that fruit flies may feel chronic pain after an injury. While researchers have known that insects can feel pain (evidenced by their avoidance of stimuli that may be perceived as painful), they did not know whether insects developed chronic pain like people sometimes do after an injury. The research team studied fruit flies with an amputated leg resulting in damage to the […]

Continue Reading →