Life Lines by Dr. Dolittle

Sponsored by the American Physiological Society

Physiology on the Road

Dangers of eating greens

Dr. Kevin Kohl (University of Pittsburgh) gave an interesting talk at the conference on the various dangers of eating plants. Aside from having low protein content and large quantities of indigestible fibers, plants are great sources of toxic chemicals. Remarkably, many animals have evolved to eat plants that may be toxic to other animals. Research by Dr. Kohl suggests that the gut microbiome of these animals may have evolved to […]

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Improving tissue integrity for transplants

Ground squirrels are known for their remarkable ability to tolerate hypothermic conditions. Humans are not. Dr. JingXing Ou (National Institutes of Health) presented an interesting talk that explored using induced pluripotent neuronal stem cells isolated from these mammalian hibernators to improve tissue integrity for organ transplants. By understanding which pathways protected ground squirrel cells from cold-damage, these pathways could be manipulated in human induced pluripotent neuronal stem cells and improve […]

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Longevity of dogs

Dogs are weird when it comes to predicting longevity based on body size. For many species, small body size means higher metabolic rate and shorter lifespan. For dogs, smaller body size = longer lifespan. Dr. Ana Jimenez (Colgate University) presented research at the Comparative Physiology meeting this weekend showing that larger dogs do indeed develop more DNA damage with aging than smaller dogs.

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Hypoxia and anoxia and reoxygenation, Oh my!

There are many examples of animals that can naturally tolerate hypoxic and anoxic conditions without exhibiting pathologies associated with reoxygenation. Here are a few examples from this year’s conference: Dr. Anthony Signore (University of Nebraska) spoke about how some hypoxia tolerant animals can use carbon monoxide, you know that gas we think of as poisonous, to improve oxygen binding to hemoglobin in hypoxic conditions. Well known for their ability to […]

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Parasite-induced metabolic disease

Dr. Rudolf Schilder (Penn State University) presented a poster yesterday reporting that male dragonflies (Libellula pulchella) are developing infection-induced metabolic disease that is similar to type 2 diabetes and obesity in vertebrates. The culprit? A protozoan parasite in the animal’s gut. It makes you wonder if parasites may be to blame for some metabolic disease cases in humans…

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How Animals Deal with Stress

  Victor Zhang (Graduate Student working with Dr. Loren Buck at Northern Arizona University) gave an interesting talk on his research to measure stress and activity patterns in free living arctic ground squirrels. They found overall that females were less stressed than males although stress levels and activity varied during lactation. I think some human mothers can agree with those observations. Oliver Wearing (Graduate student working with Dr. Graham Scott […]

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What’s up with those lung valves?

The Plenary Lecture at this year’s Comparative Physiology meeting was given by Dr. Colleen Farmer at Trinity College in Dublin who spoke about the diversity of vertebrate respiratory systems including aerodynamic valves that are found in birds and various species of reptiles. These aerodynamic valves allow air to flow in one direction during both inspiration and expiration as opposed to bidirectional flow in mammals. Examination of red-eared sliders (shown above) […]

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Physiology in Nebraska

Continuing on our journey across the country…the University of Nebraska at Omaha hosted the Nebraska Physiological Society’s annual meeting on Saturday. This year’s keynote speaker was Dr. Timothy Musch, University Distinguished Professor in the Departments of Kinesiology & Anatomy and Physiology at Kansas State University. Dr. Musch spoke about factors that regulate blood flow to skeletal muscle and how oxygen delivery to muscle changes with chronic heart failure. Dr. Xuejun […]

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Greater Washington Area Talks Physiology

It has been a great month for physiology. This week the Washington DC, Virginia, Maryland Chapter of the American Physiological Society (dvmCAPS) held their 5th annual meeting on October 8th on The George Washington University Campus. The first Distinguished Speaker was Dr. Robert S. Balaban (above), Laboratory of Cardiac Energetics at the National Institutes of Health, who spoke about the┬áStructure and Function of Cardiac Mitochondria.┬áMitochondria are derived from bacterial ancestors […]

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