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  Preeclampsia is a serious complication that develops in about 5-8% of pregnant women. It is characterized by elevated blood pressure and is typically accompanied by excess protein in the urine (a sign of kidney problems). Symptoms often (but not always) return to normal after delivery of the baby. Elabela is a recently discovered micropeptide secreted by the placenta in…

Humans are not the only primates that spontaneously develop hypertension. A new study published in the American Journal of Physiology – Regulatory, Integrative and Comparative Physiology, examined the development of spontaneous hypertension in African Green Monkeys (Chlorocebus aethiops sabaeus; aka: vervets). The team measured blood pressure in 424 adult monkeys and found that 37% had…

Surfactant is a lipoprotein substance that is secreted by special cells located in the alveoli of our lungs. The alveoli are the grape-like structures where gas exchange happens. Without surfactant, these alveoli would collapse and prevent gas exchange. Babies born prematurely often suffer from respiratory distress syndrome because their lungs do not make enough surfactant. Now…

A recent study published in Microbiome from researchers at the University of Alberta shows that babies from families with pets had nearly two-fold increases in the amount of two specific microbes in their guts, Ruminococcus and Oscillospira. These particular microbes are associated with reduced risks of developing childhood allergies as well as obesity. According to study author…

Platelets are important in the formation of blood clots. For this reason, antiplatelet medications are commonly prescribed for people at risk of developing blood clots, or who have already developed one. Many of the medications that are currently on the market to treat blood clots come with a risk for excessive bleeding and reduced platelet numbers.…

How bird eggs got their shape

Ever wonder why bird eggs are shaped the way they are and what drives the variations in egg shapes across species? I never really wondered that either until I saw an article in Science that explained a possible reason…then I just HAD to know. Some theories had been proposed suggesting that their shape prevented eggs from…

Who would have thought tiny fish could lead to big advances in medicine? Zebrafish (Danio rerio) and mammals have similar anatomy and physiology of the brain, eyes, gut, and cardiovascular systems. Some of the reasons why these fish are good models to understand cardiovascular physiology were recently explored in a new article published in Physiological Reviews.…

Most of us have heard the phrase: Laughter is contagious. When we hear other people laughing, we often smile even if we have no idea why they are laughing. Dr. Sophie Scott from the University College of London and her colleagues played both positive sounds (like laughter) and negative sounds (like retching or screaming) to subjects and…

I came across an article published in Physiological Reviews with a title so irresistible (Estrogens in Male Physiology), I just had to read it. While I knew that males have estrogen, this article impressed me with the numerous things estrogens are associated with, some of which were new to me and highlight how important estrogens are to…

Improving endurance exercise

We all know that aerobic exercise is good for us because it helps improve muscle function and our ability to move well. For fish, aerobic exercise helps animals escape predators, catch prey as well as improve reproduction success. When we exercise, our muscles adapt by altering the metabolism of energy, the way calcium is handled as…