Life Lines by Dr. Dolittle

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Nature’s Solutions

Importance of retaining sodium for land vertebrates

Peter Fuller from the Hudson Institute of Medical Research, gave an interesting talk this morning at the 9th Aldosterone and ENaC in Health and Disease: The Kidney and Beyond Conference. His talk focuses on the evolution of the mineralocorticoid receptor in vertebrates. For animals living on land, the receptor responds mainly to the hormone aldosterone. The receptor can also bind the stress hormone cortisol and the sex hormone progesterone, although progesterone binding inhibits the receptor. […]

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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 […]

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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 […]

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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, […]

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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 […]

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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 […]

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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 […]

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