New Research on Weight Cycling, Chemotherapy Side Effects, COVID-19 Severity and Concussion Presented at Experimental Biology 2022

A look down the row of physiology poster boards at Experimental Biology 2022.
Credit: American Physiological Society

Scientists who study physiology and other biomedical research fields—including anatomy, biochemistry, pathology and pharmacology—network, collaborate and communicate about the latest research at the APS annual meeting at Experimental Biology (EB). Read on to learn more about how food insecurity affects the heart, why taking vitamin C may counter chemotherapy side effects, how saliva could be the key to predicting COVID-19 severity, and why diagnosing sport-related concussions may be harder than we thought.

Some people who have lost weight gain a few pounds back, then lose them again, repeatedly over the years. While “yo-yo dieting,” as this phenomenon has been called, may carry some health benefits, researchers from Georgetown University in Washington D.C. have found that weight fluctuations in rats can raise the risk of heart disease or diabetes later on. The study’s authors—who also acknowledge the impact of involuntary weight loss caused by food insecurity—state that looking “healthy” after cycling through weight loss and gain doesn’t necessarily tell the full story of what’s happening to the body’s metabolism and kidney and heart function.

Cancer treatments are known for causing side effects that can make people feel awful and also lead to damage in other parts of the body. Loss of muscle, sometimes called “muscle wasting,” is a common side effect of some chemotherapy medications that increases the risk of falls and may hamper independent living. A new study in rats conducted by a research team from University Nove de Julho in Brazil suggests taking vitamin C may help reduce muscle wasting caused by the chemotherapy drug doxorubicin. Vitamin C, an antioxidant, is thought to reduce oxidative stress, a type of cellular damage, caused by the medication.

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, scientists are making headway in learning how they can predict who has a higher risk of becoming severely ill from the disease. Researchers from University of Utah Health have found a possible new diagnostic tool simply by looking at our saliva. They found that people who had COVID-19 who were admitted to the hospital had proteins in their saliva called ephrin ligands, which are associated with inflammation. A saliva-based tool could be especially helpful for diagnosing new COVID-19 variants, according to the research team.

Traumatic brain injuries, such as concussions, are common in sports, particularly in American football and soccer. But some of the symptoms, such as extreme fatigue and neck pain, may be diagnosed as overuse or exertion injuries instead when medical professionals see patient-athletes who don’t have an obvious head injury. Researchers from Rutgers University in New Jersey and Western Sydney University in Australia emphasize the importance of examining how standard tests that assess memory loss can be used alongside physiological measures, such as fatigue, to better diagnose concussions.

Check out our APS at EB 2022 Newsroom to see more highlights from the meeting.

Erica Roth

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