fat

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Ceramides are a type of sphingolipid composed of both fatty acids and sphingosine that are important in maintaining the structure of cell membranes and cell signaling pathways. Given their structure, it is perhaps not surprising that levels of ceramide are increased in the brains of mammals after eating a diet high in fats as well as in individuals who are obese.…

I LOVE THIS MEETING! DAY 3 included several very interesting comparative physiology sessions. Eldon Braun (University of Arizona) spoke about how birds have a unique way to prevent water loss and thereby dehydration. In mammals, the kidneys are responsible for recovering water from the urine. However when birds are well-hydrated, the urine enters the colon…

In a new study published in The Auk, scientists report that well-fueled older tiny Ruby-throated Hummingbirds (Archilochus colubris) might be capable of non-stop flights of over 4,000 kilometers, wind conditions permitting. They made this remarkable observation while studying birds from 2010-2014 as the animals made stopovers at a wildlife refuge during their annual migration to South America. In general, older birds not only…

Wednesday was the last day of the meeting that culminated in a closing banquet with an awards session to honor students who had exceptional presentations. What an impressive group of young comparative physiologists!  The plenary lecture was given by Dr. Steven Chown (Monash Univ, Australia). He spoke about climate change forecasts and continuing environmental changes…

A new study published in  AJP-Regulatory, Integrative and Comparative Physiology suggests that electroacupuncture to the abdominal region may prevent increases in blood sugar concentrations after a meal by affecting insulin sensitivity and circulating free fatty acid concentrations.  Granted this is not comparative physiology research, I find it interesting that electrical stimulation can have such a large impact…

Shivering is one mechanism by which heat is produced in the body. Heat production is called thermogenesis. Another mechanism is through nonshivering thermogenesis regulated by brown fat (i.e. adipose). This second type of heating mechanism kicks in when we need extra heat production such as a postnatal infant, someone developing a fever, an animal arousing…

Rare fatty antifreeze

I have heard of some animals using sugars as antifreeze (check out the prior blog on wood frogs that freeze and survive!), but never lipids. Researchers have discovered that larva of the Goldenrod gall fly (Eurosta solidaginis) shown above survive nearly freezing solid as well, which they hypothesize may be accomplished by accumulating acetylated triacylglycerol,…

Building bones from fat

Drs. Chia Soo and Bruno Péault, from the Eli and Edythe Broad Center of Regenerative Medicine and Stem Cell Research at UCLA, have found a way to turn stem cells from fat tissue into bone of higher quality than that grown with prior techniques. The mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) isolated from the fat tissue may develop into bone,…