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Starvation Prompts Body Temperature, Blood Sugar Changes to Tolerate Next Food Limitation

Physiological changes may help rats conserve stored fat to save their own lives

Chicago (April 24, 2017)—Rats that have experienced past episodes of limited food resources make physiological adaptations that may extend their lives the next time they are faced with starvation. New research about starvation physiology will be presented today at the Experimental Biology 2017 meeting in Chicago.

Researchers from St. Mary’s University in Texas severely limited food intake in adult rats on three separate occasions during their lifetime. During the first two periods of starvation, the animals lost 20 percent of their body mass. In the third, the most prolonged starvation period, they lost 30 percent. The research team found that the starved rats had a lower body temperature and lower blood sugar levels when compared with healthy, fed control rats. These physiological adaptations helped the rats to hold on to stored fat for energy and suggest that previous periods of extreme hunger “affected the starvation strategies used by the rats,” wrote Marshall McCue, first author of the study.

These findings are important to understand the “potentially adaptive physiological responses to starvation,” McCue wrote. He encourages biologists to conduct “experiments of starvation physiology that more closely resemble the dynamic nature of food availability.”

Marshall McCue, PhD, will present “Repeated exposure to food limitation earlier in life enables rats to spare lipid stores during prolonged starvation” in a poster session on Monday, April 24, from 12:45 to 3 p.m. CDT in Hall F of the McCormick Place Convention Center.

NOTE TO JOURNALISTS: To schedule an interview with a member of the research team, please contact the APS Communications Office or 301-634-7209. Find more research highlights in the APS Press Room.

About Experimental Biology 2017

Experimental Biology is an annual meeting comprised of more than 14,000 scientists and exhibitors from six sponsoring societies and multiple guest societies. With a mission to share the newest scientific concepts and research findings shaping clinical advances, the meeting offers an unparalleled opportunity for exchange among scientists from across the United States and the world who represent dozens of scientific areas, from laboratory to translational to clinical research.

Physiology is the study of how molecules, cells, tissues and organs function in health and disease. Established in 1887, the American Physiological Society (APS) was the first U.S. society in the biomedical sciences field. The Society represents more than 10,500 members and publishes 15 peer-reviewed journals with a worldwide readership.



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