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Episode 20: Celiac Research Update

Celiac Update. Celiac disease is an uncontrolled immune response to wheat gluten and similar proteins of rye and barley. In those who have celiac disease, gluten can damage the small intestine, inhibit nutritional uptake and lead to malnutrition. Among the symptoms are diarrhea, stomach pain, fatigue, weight loss and slow growth. One study estimated that 1 in 133 people in the U.S. population have celiac disease. Many people do not know they have it, sometimes because there are no symptoms. Because celiac disease has a genetic component, there can be a much higher prevalence of the disease within families.

Three years ago, a group of Dutch researchers led by Frits Koning of the Leiden University Medical Center published a study on an enzyme that showed promise as a treatment for celiac disease. The enzyme, prolyl endoprotease, or PEP, could quickly break down gluten in the stomach before it ever reached the small intestine, where it causes damage. In this episode, we ask Frits Koning to update us on his research. (Begins at 2:45)

Total Time: 11:20

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Episode 19: The Genetics of Exercise

Have you ever had an experience like this: You and a friend start jogging together. Neither of you have been exercising much, but after a few days, your friend is easily striding along as you wheeze, gasp and hold onto your aching side. Do not feel bad about your performance; it may be your genes.

Scientists have identified about 200 genes that play a role in our body’s ability to become fitter, referred to as “adaptation to exercise.” In this episode, we talk to Mark Olfert of the University of California at San Diego and Claude Bouchard of the Pennington Biomedical Research Center. They have organized a symposium on the genetics of adaptation to exercise, to take place at the Experimental Biology conference in New Orleans in April. They will give us a flavor for the research in this field by telling us a bit about their own work. (Begins at 3:51)

In the Buzz in Physiology (Begins at 1:21) University of Illinois researchers are developing a program to train people to avoid falls. This research could be particularly valuable for the elderly, for whom falling can be an especially dangerous proposition. And a study from the University College London Medical School sheds light on why patients with cirrhosis may have a more regular heart rhythm than is normal, and why they develop hepatic encephalopathy, a neurological disorder. The body’s inflammatory response may be the common thread behind the development of these conditions.

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Episode 18: Where Love Begins: In the Brain

Lucy Brown, a neuroscientist at the Albert Einstein School of Medicine, has studied romantic love using functional magnetic resonance imaging. Dr. Brown will talk about her studies on what happens in our brains at different stages of love: falling in love, being rejected by a lover, and longterm love.

Obstructive sleep apnea is the most commonly diagnosed condition among sleep-related breathing disorders and can lead to debilitating and sometimes fatal consequences for the 18 million Americans who have been diagnosed with the disorder.

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Episode 17: Environmental Cardiology

Accumulating evidence indicates that an increase in particulate air pollution is associated with an increase in heart attacks and deaths. In this episode, we’ll talk to Aruni Bhatnagar of the University of Louisville and Robert Brook of the University of Michigan about research in the relatively new field of environmental cardiology. This field examines the relationship between air pollution and heart disease. (Begins at 2:58)

Research update: Dr. Brook published his study in the September, 2009 issue of the journal Hypertension, a publication of the American Heart Association.

Why was the man known in scientific literature only as “H.M.” so important to neuroscience? David Linden of Johns Hopkins University explains why in the wake of H.M.’s recent death. (Begins at 14:54)

The Buzz in Physiology: (Begins at 1:14)

A new study with rats could help uncover how we get hooked on sugary food.

The heart’s beat is not a simple in-and-out movement, but has a bit of a twist to it. Researchers have created images showing the connection between the configuration of the heart’s muscular layer and how the heart contracts. The study is available here. Be sure to click on the supplemental video to see how it works.

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Episode 16: Circadian Rhythm & Jet Lag; Exercise and Appetite

We’ll start this episode by talking about clocks, but not the type of clock that ticks away on your wall. Instead, we’ll talk about the biological clocks that tick inside us. Clifford Saper of the Beth Israel Deaconness Medical Center in Boston will explain some of the research on circadian rhythm and will share his theory about the best way to deal with the disruption of the biological clock caused by jet travel. If you’re traveling this holiday season, or anytime in the near future, give a listen. (Begins at 3:14)

Do you have a tendency to overeat during the holidays? A new study finds that exercise affects the release of two hormones that help regulate appetite, ghrelin and peptide YY. This may help explain why exercise is often, even if only briefly, associated with suppression of appetite. David Stensel of Loughborough University in the United Kingdom will talk about his study, which appears in the American Journal of Physiology-Regulatory, Integrative and Comparative Physiology. (Begins at 11:54)

Total Time: 20:27