Life Lines by Dr. Dolittle

Sponsored by the American Physiological Society

Historical perspectives on homeostasis

In a new article published in the American Journal of Physiology – Regulatory, Integrative and Comparative Physiology, Dr. David S. Goldstein (National Institutes of Health) presents an elegant historical perspective on homeostasis. Walter B. Cannon (1871-1945) was a physiologist at Harvard Medical School who is credited with coining the term “homeostasis” to describe how the body attempts to regulate itself to stay healthy. The ability for the body to regulate the […]

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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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Sleep = better DNA repair

I read an interesting article published in Nature Communications that described how zebrafish larvae need sleep to help fix damaged DNA that accumulates in their brains during the day. The researchers engineered zebrafish larvae to have fluorescent chromosomes in a single neuron, which allowed them to observe double-strand breaks in the DNA build-up during wakefulness. In contrast, chromosome activity necessary for repair increased when the animals were sleeping. If the researchers disrupted […]

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Gynandromorphs

Talking about having a split personality. A recent story from Live Science reported on a half male/half female chimera cardinal that was discovered in Pennsylvania (pictured below). Not only are the bird’s feathers split (red feathers are found among male and tan among female cardinals), typically the brain is also split. This type of a split sexuality is termed gynandromorph. According to the article, this  anomaly has been observed in birds, […]

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Sniffing out cancer?

I just saw an interesting review article published in Physiological Reviews that discussed the presence of olfactory (i.e. smell) receptors located outside of the nose. Say what? It turns out that these “smell” receptors are not unique to our nostrils. In fact they are found throughout our bodies. Those found in the heart may be responsible for regulating heart function, those in the immune system are thought to help destroy types […]

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Adapting to rising temperatures

In a new review article published in Physiology, Dr. Jonathon Stillman from San Francisco State University explores how populations of animals and humans may respond to increasing frequency of heat waves. According to Dr. Stillman, the past decade has produced some of the hottest years on record, resulting in the loss of human and animal life. Both the length and intensity of these heat waves are expected to increase, which […]

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