Life Lines by Dr. Dolittle

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Ocean Life

Blood flow shifts during diving

In many mammals exposure to hypoxic conditions results in the release of a vasodilator called nitric oxide, which improves blood flow and protects oxygen delivery to tissues throughout the body. Diving animals appear to be unique in that some of their blood vessels stay constricted while they are diving even though they experience hypoxia. A new study published in the American Journal of Physiology – Regulatory, Integrative and Comparative Physiology explored […]

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Highlights from the last day in Orlando

Today marked the final day of the 2019 Experimental Biology meeting in Orlando. As usual it was a great day for Physiology. Crupi et al., from the University of Messina and the Universita della Magna Grecia in Italy put up a poster presentation describing their research on how red blood cells respond to environmental toxins. Their research showed that isolated red blood cells from rabbits are more sensitive to venoms […]

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Dr. Terrie Williams, 2019 August Krogh Distinguished Lecture

This year’s August Krogh Distinguished Lecture was awarded to Dr. Terrie Williams from the University of California at Santa Cruz. She gave an excellent lecture on her research with dolphins, narwhals and Weddell seals examining their physiological responses to diving, which includes a remarkable ability to reduce heart rate. He current research is aimed at identifying physiological mechanisms that could explain the increasing incidence of cetaceans becoming stranded on beaches […]

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Highlights from EB 2019

There were so many poster presentations on comparative and evolutionary physiology today at the 2019 Experimental Biology conference that it was impossible to see them all. Here are some highlights: Dr. Michael Hedrick from California State University – East Bay, presented his research on African cheetahs (Acinonyx jubatus) examining adaptations that cheetahs have evolved to supply their muscles with oxygen so efficiently, given they maintain the world record for being […]

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Do octopuses (and other animals) dream?

Video captured by Rebecca Otey (via YouTube) at the Butterfly Pavilion in Colorado seems to suggest that perhaps octopuses dream in their sleep: Although it is not clear whether octopuses really are dreaming when they change colors in their sleep, researchers at the World Science Festival in 2011 discussed work studying changes in brain activity of animals during sleep compared to wakefulness to gauge whether they may be dreaming:

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Carnivorous fish are glucose intolerant

Who would have thought that carnivorous fish, like the gilthead sea bream pictured above, and people with diabetes have a lot in common? These fish are glucose intolerant, meaning they are not able to use glucose for energy very well. When these fish are given carbohydrates, their blood sugar increases as does their ability to produce fats through lipogenesis. The purpose of this increase may be to store the excess […]

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Ohio is talking about fixing broken hearts, the physiology of freezing, combating opioid addiction and more

The Ohio Physiological Society held their 33rd Annual Meeting at the University of Cincinnati this weekend. The keynote address was given by Dr. Mark Sussman from San Diego State University. He spoke about current research strategies that aim to improve the ability for the heart to repair itself after heart failure. Dr. Perwez Alam (University of Cincinnati) also spoke about using siRNA to try to repair heart tissue after heart attacks and […]

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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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