Here we post the abstracts and links to ExActa articles. ExActa is an entertaining monthly column of overviews of Acta articles that you can download for free from the Acta Physiologica webpage at Wiley Online Library.

October Issue 2019, 227:e13350

Metabolic modelling of kidney diseases: Lessons learned from the liver

Numerous human diseases originate from an aberrant cellular metabolism. Persistent alterations in the concentrations of key metabolites like ATP, fatty acids or reactive oxygen species exceeding the normal physiological range may result in cellular dysfunction, activation of a damage response and ultimately cell death. Disease‐causing deviations from normal metabolism may arise from different factors: Genetic alterations affecting the expression of metabolic enzymes, action of drugs or toxins diminishing the activity of metabolic enzymes or inadequate supply of substrates, in particular oxygen.1The impact of genetic variations is impressively demonstrated by inborn monogenetic metabolic diseases like phenylketonuria, where the impaired activity of a single enzyme (phenylalanine hydroxylase) may derange the whole cellular metabolic network of brain cells in a way that intellectual disability, seizures, behavioural problems and mental disorders may occur without an early‐onset strict phenylalanine‐depleted diet. Insufficient supply of cellular nutrients such as glucose, fatty acids, amino acids and oxygen because of reduced tissue perfusion (ischaemia) prevents the adequate generation of energy‐rich nucleotides such as ATP or GTP. This generates a latent cellular state of restricted energy production which may suddenly and unexpectedly progress to organ failure if substrate supply is further decreased (eg, because of a temporary heart insufficiency) or an extreme organ performance is demanded (eg, because of high muscle workload, intake of new drugs, long‐term starvation or an infectious disease).2,3

Nikolaus Berndt1,2

Andreas Patzak3

Hermann‐Georg Holzhütter1

1Institute of Biochemistry, Charite‐Universitatsmedizin Berlin, Berlin, Germany

2Institute for Computational and Imaging Science in Cardiovascular Medicine, Charite‐Universitatsmedizin Berlin, Berlin, Germany

3Institute of Vegetative Physiology, Charite‐Universitatsmedizin Berlin, Berlin, Germany

Email: andreas.patzak@charite.de

HTML: https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/apha.13350

PDF: https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/epdf/10.1111/apha.13350

September Issue 2019, 227:e13347

A fluid shift for endurance exercise—Why hydration matters

As modern‐day humans, we still bear the genetic heritage of our ancestors who evolved under conditions very different from today and who were selected for a great amount of daily physical exercise.1We should be aware of this 2‐million‐yearold heritage2and include physical exercise in our everyday lives to prevent civilization‐induced disorders, as for example metabolic syndrome and cardiovascular diseases,3and to stay physically and mentally fit.4Indeed, regular endurance training has many beneficial consequences such as improved cardiovascular function, lower morbidity, and mortality rates and overall improved physical fitness.5-7Moreover, exercise training may even reverse pathological changes associated with diseases of civilization.3,8-11

Mathias Steinach1

Julia Lichti1,2

Martina Anna Maggioni1,3

Michael Fähling2

1Institute of Physiology, Center for Space Medicine and Extreme Environments Berlin, Charite‐Universitätsmedizin Berlin, Corporate Member of Freie Universität Berlin, Humboldt‐Universität zu Berlin, and Berlin Institute of Health, Berlin, Germany

2Institute of Vegetative Physiology, Charite‐Universitätsmedizin Berlin, Corporate Member of Freie Universität Berlin, Humboldt‐Universität zu Berlin, and Berlin Institute of Health, Berlin, Germany

3Department of Biomedical Sciences for Health, Università degli Studi di Milano, Milan, Italy

Email: michael.faehling@charite.de

HTML: https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/apha.13347

PDF: https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/epdf/10.1111/apha.13347

August Issue 2019, 226:e13295

Recent advances in hypertension research

Raised blood pressure affects 1.13 billion people worldwide according to Global Health Observatory (GHO) data.1Interestingly, according to WHO statistics, the prevalence of elevated blood pressure depends on World Bank income group. Data for the years between 1975 and 2015 are shown in Figure 1. The change over the last 40 years might be because of better awareness and better treatment options in regions with higher income whereas the prevalence has increased in the low‐income regions. Currently, a high percentage of patients have suboptimal or inadequately controlled blood pressure, thus placing them at risk for cardiovascular disease.2Hypertension is associated with a number of co‐morbidities.3There is an agreement that arterial hypertension is a risk factor for cardiovascular events such as myocardial infarction and stroke; however, Khnaji et al conclude from a systematic review of guidelines that considerable discrepancies in cardiovascular screening guidelines still exist, with no consensus on optimum screening strategies or treatment threshold.4

  1. Mrowka

Klinik für Innere Medizin III, AG Experimentelle Nephrologie, Universitätsklinikum Jena,

Jena, Germany

Email: ralf.mrowka@med.uni-jena.de

HTML: https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/apha.13295

PDF: https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/epdf/10.1111/apha.13295

July Issue 2019, 226:e13284

Inflammation—Dysregulated inflammatory response and strategies for treatment

Inflammation is a natural protective response to microbial infections and tissue injury. It functions to eliminate harmful stimuli and to repair damaged tissue. The inflammatory response is initiated by different inducers of exogenous and endogenous origin. Exogenous inducers can be microbial (pathogen‐associated molecular patterns [PAMPs] and virulence factors) or non‐microbial (allergens, irritants, foreign bodies and toxic compounds). Endogenous inducers are produced as signals against stress or damage (cell derived, tissue derived, plasma derived or extracellular matrix derived signals)1and under normal conditions located intracellular or integrated in the extracellular matrix. Furthermore, they can initiate a sterile inflammation. Under necrotic conditions, triggers of sterile inflammation are released into the extracellular space (for example, nuclear proteins [high‐mobility group box 1], mitochondrial DNA and peptides, uric acids, cellular chaperones [heat shock proteins] and hyaluronan).2

  1. Herold and R. Mrowka

Klinik für Innere Medizin III, AG Experimentelle Nephrologie, Universitätsklinikum Jena,

Jena, Germany

Email: kristina.herold@med.uni-jena.de

HTML: https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/apha.13284

PDF: https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/epdf/10.1111/apha.13284

June Issue 2019, 226:e13276

Intermittent hypoxia: Friend and foe

‘Love is like oxygen, you get too much you get too high, not enough and you’re gonna die, love gets you high’.

We are not sure whether Andrew Scott and Trevor Griffin reflected on the phenomenon of intermittent hypoxia, when they wrote this song text in the late 70s—presumably not. These lines may also not be taken too literally with regard to the health problems arising from inadequate enjoyment of the preferred elixir of life. Yet, they refer to a relevant physiological issue: the Janus‐faced nature of oxygen and its harmful relative hypoxia.

Katharina Krueger, Lorenzo Catanese and Holger Scholz

Institut fur Vegetative Physiologie, ChariteUniversitatsmedizin Berlin, Berlin, Germany


HTML: https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/apha.13276


May Issue 2019, 226:e13275

Cancer – An ongoing fight searching for reasons and therapies

Cancer is a wide‐ranging term for diseases which are characterized by the rapid appearance of abnormal cells that grow beyond their usual boundaries. Thereby spreading of tumour cells to other organs and parts of the body can occur and cause metastasizing. With 9.6 million eaths in 2018 cancer is the second leading cause of death worldwide and therefore an important and necessary field for research.1Better knowledge about the reasons for cancer as well as searching for new strategies and optimize already existing treatments to fight this disease is an ongoing process. Some of the latest results will be summarized in this paper.

  1. Ackermann and R. Mrowka

Klinik für Innere Medizin III, AG Experimentelle Nephrologie, Universitätsklinikum Jena,

Jena, Germany

Email: susanne.ackermann@med.uni-jena.de

HTML: https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/apha.13275

PDF: https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/epdf/10.1111/apha.13275

April Issue 2019, 225:e13265

Listen to your physiologist!

Aristotle (384‐322 BC), a Greek philosopher, presented in one of his earliest work in the fourth century BC an accurate and universal description of the human cardiovascular system. Aristotle laid the foundation of modern evidence‐based medicine, concluding there cannot be a scientific conclusion which is drawn from a single person or an individual alone: “Individuum est ineffabile” (The individual cannot be grasped).1Nowadays, diseases of the cardiovascular system (CVD) are the leading cause of illness and death worldwide, except on the African continent,2 while at the same time modern clinical medicine sees a paradigm shift towards individual, personalized treatment refining the standards set by evidence‐based guidelines.

Philipp Hillmeister1Ivo Buschmann1Anja Bondke Persson2

1Department for Angiology, Brandenburg Medical School, Campus Clinic Brandenburg, DAZB Deutsches Angiologie Zentrum Brandenburg-Berlin, Brandenburg an der Havel, Germany

2Charite– Universitatsmedizin Berlin, Corporate Member of Freie Universitat Berlin, Humboldt‐Universitat zu Berlin, and Berlin Institute of Health, Berlin, Germany

Email: p.hillmeister@klinikum-brandenburg.de

HTML: https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/apha.13265

PDF: https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/epdf/10.1111/apha.13265

March Issue 2019, 225:e13258

Obesity, adipocytes and insulin resistance—Friends for life?

Since the 1980s, there has been an alarming increase in obesity all over the world. A sedentary lifestyle and the uptake of energy‐dense foods are drivers of this trend, exacerbated by changes in food systems and environments. In 2015, about 107 million children and 603 million adults were obese with an overall prevalence of 5% among children and 12% among adults.1A high body mass index (BMI > 25) is the major risk factor for the development of insulin resistance, type 2 diabetes mellitus, cardiovascular diseases, some types of cancer and nevertheless poor life quality. 41% of BMI‐related deaths were caused by cardiovascular diseases and accounted for 2.7 million deaths worldwide in 2015.

  1. Reuter and R. Mrowka

Klinik für Innere Medizin III, AG Experimentelle Nephrologie, Universitätsklinikum Jena,

Jena, Germany

Email: stefanie.reuter@med.uni-jena.de

HTML: https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/apha.13258

PDF: https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/epdf/10.1111/apha.13258

February Issue 2019, 225:e13220


Clinical medicine can, at countless times, be ranked high among the most rewarding careers. However, in a profession where both internal and external quality standards are outstandingly high, noticing how you start making mistakes and, at the same time, being unable to take appropriate measures to prevent that, holds potential for personal despair. 1Nevertheless, it is the reality for the majority of shift workers that is approximately 20% of the workforce in developed economies, among them numerous healthcare providers and first responders. To cite just one example, doctors in training are at a significantly higher risk of blood‐borne pathogen exposure, like needle stick injuries, when working at nights than working during the days.2

Pontus B. Persson1Anja Bondke Persson2

1Institute of Vegetative Physiology, CharitéUniversitätsmedizin Berlin, corporate member of Freie Universität Berlin, HumboldtUniversität zu Berlin, and Berlin Institute of Health, Berlin, Germany

2CharitéUniversitätsmedizin Berlin, corporate member of Freie Universität Berlin, HumboldtUniversität zu Berlin, and Berlin Institute of Health, Berlin, Germany

Email: pontus.persson@charite.de

HTML: https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/apha.13220

PDF: https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/epdf/10.1111/apha.13220

January Issue 2019, 225:e13237


The most common misunderstanding about science is that scientists seek and find truth.

They do not — they make and test models…..1

A look at the history of science supports this statement. Harvey’s discovery of the blood circulation, published in 1628, is undoubtedly among the most important events in the history of physiology. Although Harvey’s concept of blood circulation was brilliant at that time, it was far away from a comprehensive insight into the circulatory system. Imaging methods of the microscopic structures were not available and, thus, he could only speculate about the micro‐anatomical structures and physiological events, which take place in the organs. Even nowadays, several physical, chemical and physiological aspects of the circulation are incompletely understood and the respective models do not reflect the complexity of the system. The question arises, in how far models are helpful in modern science, including physiological research and teaching.

Andreas Patzak1,2,3,4 Marion Ludwig1,2,3,4

1Charité – Universitätsmedizin Berlin, Berlin, Germany 2Corporate Member of Freie Universität Berlin, Berlin, Germany 3Humboldt‐Universität zu Berlin, Berlin, Germany 4Berlin Institute of Health, Institute of Vegetative Physiology, Berlin, Germany

Email: andreas.patzak@charite.de

HTML: https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/apha.13237

PDF: https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/epdf/10.1111/apha.13237

December Issue 2018, 224: e13188

New insights into the astonishing diversity of hormone functions

Hormones: They control the human circadian rhythm, cause happiness after physical exercise, cause butterflies in one´s stomach and contribute to the chemistry of love, turn a pregnant woman´s life upside down and influence the growth of the foetus, in short, they are essential in the human individual development and homeostasis of organs. Hormones are mainly produced in the brain, pancreas, thyroid, kidney and the genital organs and represent the most important chemical messengers in the human organism. Hormone‐dependent pathologic conditions are manifold and dysregulations need to be treated in order to warrant a

healthy human body. Idiopathic short stature of children can, for example, be treated with growth hormones and researchers analyse the impact of hormone replacement therapy on well‐being and health in the elderly.1,2Hormones even enable the treatment of gender dysphoria, relieving the immense mental burden of the affected individuals.3In order to understand the complex functions of hormones, nowadays a lot of research is being conducted.

  1. Westphal and R. Mrowka

Klinik für Innere Medizin III, AG Experimentelle Nephrologie, Universitätsklinikum Jena,

Jena, Germany

E-mail: anika.westphal@med.uni-jena.de

HTML: https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/apha.13188

PDF: https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/epdf/10.1111/apha.13188

November Issue 2018, 224: e13184

Modifiers of Hypertension

Regulation of blood pressure and the understanding of its mechanisms have been one focus of current publications in Acta Physiologica. Among those are many publications that investigate mechanistic aspects of blood pressure regulation.

  1. Mrowka

Klinik für Innere Medizin III, AG Experimentelle Nephrologie, Universitätsklinikum Jena,

Jena, Germany

E-mail: ralf.mrowka@med.uni-jena.de

HTML: https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/apha.13184

PDF: https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/epdf/10.1111/apha.13184

October Issue 2018, 224: e13173

Water is life

On earth, water is life. Terrestrial life uses carbon compounds for structural and metabolic functions and water as its solvent. Water, thus, in a controlled manner, is taken up, utilized in metabolism and released back into the environment. Sounds easy and relatively straightforward. However: Generations of bioscientists have been making a living from researching the incredible network of intricate processes which underlies these processes. Still, there is so much more.

  1. B. Persson1, 2and A. B. Persson1

1Charité-Universitaetsmedizin Berlin, corporate member of Freie Universitaet Berlin, Humbodt-Universitaet zu Berlin, and Berlin Institute of Health, Berlin, Germany

2Institute of Vegetative Physiology, Berlin, Germany

E-mail: pontus.persson@charite.de

HTML: https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/apha.13173

PDF https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/epdf/10.1111/apha.13173

September Issue 2018, 224: e13096

Nephropathy: New aspects of mechanisms, diagnosis and therapy

Nephropathy denotes a loss of kidney function as a result of renal disease or kidney damage. In general this can be caused by inflammation or non‐inflammatory causes. Noninflammatory processes leading to nephropathy are for example a decreased glomerular flow rate (GFR), exposure to renal toxins (e.g. drugs) and renal trauma. Acute kidney injuries (AKI) occur global and are a common challenge in hospitals. One out of five patients develops AKI during its clinical stay.1,2AKI is potentially life‐threatening, associated with elevated short‐term morbidity and mortality and can lead to chronic kidney diseases (CKD) and cardiovascular events.3

  1. Ackermann and R. Mrowka

Klinik für Innere Medizin III, AG Experimentelle Nephrologie, Universitätsklinikum Jena,

Jena, Germany

E-mail: susanne.ackermann@med.uni-jena.de

HTML: https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/apha.13162

PDF https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/epdf/10.1111/apha.13162

August Issue 2018, 223: e13086

Skeletal muscle in the fight against chronic diseases

The causes for the development of chronic diseases such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease or cancer are multifactorial and often influence each other. With increasing age, the risk for developing type 2 diabetes increases and the risk to suffer from cardiovascular and chronic kidney disease is increased once a patient is diabetic. Besides pharmacological treatment, there is one strategy to combat the development or progress of most chronic disease: physical activity. Research is going on to understand the impact of skeletal muscle and exercise on improving the health status in, for example, diabetes and cancer at the cellular and molecular level or signalling pathways. This review will give a short overview of the latest reports published in Acta Physiologica about the complex interplay of skeletal muscle, immune system, kidney and cardiovascular system in chronic diseases.

  1. Mrowka and A. Westphal

Klinik für Innere Medizin III, AG Experimentelle Nephrologie, Universitätsklinikum Jena,

Jena, Germany

E-mail: ralf.mrowka@med.uni-jena.de

HTML: https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/apha.13086

PDF: https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/epdf/10.1111/apha.13086

July Issue 2018, 223: e13096

Metabolism, obesity and the metabolic syndrome

Nothing in life is certain except death, taxes and the second law of thermodynamics. All 3 are processes in which useful or accessible forms of some quantity, such as energy or money, are transformed into useless, inaccessible forms of the same quantity. That is not to say that these 3 processes don’t have fringe benefits: taxes pay for roads and schools; the second law of thermodynamics drives cars, computers and metabolism; and death, at the very least, opens up tenured faculty positions.

Seth Lloyd

The current obesity epidemic has not only spread from Western to developing economies but is affecting ever younger individuals. While oftentimes blamed on a slow metabolism or a hereditary component, one might consider whether family recipes and dietary habits are hereditary to a much higher degree than slow metabolism or big bones could ever be. Education is critical, so how do we explain metabolism to a layman, for example a parent of an obese child?—Metabolism denotes all the processes, which turn nutrients from our food into energy. This energy, in turn, powers everything we do: Grow. Play. Think. Move. Exercise. The term metabolic syndrome, in turn, subsumes a disease entity which is on the rise, and threateningly so.

  1. B. Persson1, 2 and A. B. Persson1

1Charité-Universitaetsmedizin Berlin, corporate member of Freie Universitaet Berlin, Humbodt-Universitaet zu Berlin, and Berlin Institute of Health, Berlin, Germany

2Institute of Vegetative Physiology, Berlin, Germany

E-mail: pontus.persson@charite.de

HTML: https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/apha.13096

PDF: https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/epdf/10.1111/apha.13096

April Issue 2018, 222:e13053

Alternative pre-mRNA splicing

Have you ever felt ashamed of yourself when using copy and paste instead of writing an original? You do not have to! Nature is using copy and paste with incredibly great success, and we can learn a lot by studying this intriguing method called alternative splicing.

  1. Schmidt1 and K. M. Kirschner1,2

1Charité-Universitaetsmedizin Berlin, corporate member of Freie Universitaet Berlin, Humbodt-Universitaet zu Berlin, and Berlin Institute of Health, Institute of Vegetative Physiology, Berlin, Germany

2corresponding author e-mail: karin.kirschner@charite.de

HTML: https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/apha.13053

PDF: https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/epdf/10.1111/apha.13053

March Issue 2018, 222:e13036

Light and darkness in circadian rhythms

Sunlight fell upon the wall; the wall received

a borrowed splendour. Why set your heart on

a piece of earth, O simple one? Seek out the

source which shines forever. – Rumi

Life on earth follows cyclic processes, of which the diurnal cycle of the sun rising and setting is one of the most evident. The rotation of the earth dictates the waking and resting cycles of numerous life forms on earth. While we can safely assume that our earliest human ancestors will have recognized, sometimes feared or even worshipped the cyclic nature of Life on Eartha , the knowledge that almost “all multicellular organisms, including humans, utilize a similar mechanism to control circadian rhythms”,1 has only very recently warranted a Nobel Prize in Physiology/Medicine.

  1. B. Persson1, 2 and A. B. Persson1

1Charité-Universitaetsmedizin Berlin, corporate member of Freie Universitaet Berlin, Humbodt-Universitaet zu Berlin, and Berlin Institute of Health, Berlin, Germany

2Institute of Vegetative Physiology, Berlin, Germany

E-mail: pontus.persson@charite.de

HTML: https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/apha.13036

PDF: https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/epdf/10.1111/apha.13036

December Issue 2017, 221, 224-226

Can we make physiological research better?

Let us assume that scientists, being on average smart individuals, come with an intrinsic drive to, constantly and based on analytical results, improve the quality of their work and their professional environment. So how can we make science in general and physiological research in particular, better?

  1. B. Persson1, 2 and A. B. Persson1

1Charité-Universitaetsmedizin Berlin, corporate member of Freie Universitaet Berlin, Humbodt-Universitaet zu Berlin, and Berlin Institute of Health, Berlin, Germany

2Institute of Vegetative Physiology, Berlin, Germany

E-mail: pontus.persson@charite.de

HTML: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/apha.12987/full

PDF: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/apha.12987/pdf

November Issue 2017, 221, 151-154


Origins and progresses of nephropathies are manifold and include inflammatory or non-inflammatory causes. The incidence of nephropathies increases all over the world, supported by the growing elderly population. Nowadays, there are about two million fatalities per year due to acute kidney injury (AKI).1 Clinical outcomes of AKI have not improved over the past 50 years.2 Renal tissue hypoperfusion and hypoxia are thought to be the main elements causing AKI and the progression to chronic kidney disease (CKD) and endstage renal disease (ESRD).1 Moreover, renal disorders often coincide with systemic diseases like hypertension, which also has a high mortality, or with diabetes. Up to date, there is less opportunity to prevent or predict the development of renal diseases and less is known about drugs for an effective therapy. To develop therapeutic targets against nephropathies, gaining a deeper understanding of their pathophysiological mechanisms remains a current issue. This review will give a short overview of the latest reports and strategies published in Acta Physiologica to combat kidney diseases.

  1. Westphal, S. Reuter and R. Mrowka

Klinik für Innere Medizin III, AG Experimentelle Nephrologie, Universitätsklinikum Jena,

Jena, Germany

E-mail: ralf.mrowka@med.uni-jena.de

HTML: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/apha.12945/full

PDF: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/apha.12945/pdf

October Issue 2017, 221, 84-86

Borders and beyond

Compartmentalization is a basic requirement of life on earth. Eukaryotic cells separate themselves from their surroundings by biological membranes which function as intricately regulated barriers. These borders, at best, allow, for example, intercellular communication

and transport. They ensure that intruders are kept outside, that supplies are coming in and products are exported and that waste is got rid of, all in due time and amount. Cell membranes protect the cell and organize its functionality. That is as far as the ideal situation goes.

  1. B. Persson1, 2 and A. B. Persson1

1Charité-Universitaetsmedizin Berlin, corporate member of Freie Universitaet Berlin, Humbodt-Universitaet zu Berlin, and Berlin Institute of Health, Berlin, Germany

2Institute of Vegetative Physiology, Berlin, Germany

E-mail: pontus.persson@charite.de

HTML: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/apha.12935/full

PDF: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/apha.12935/pdf

September Issue 2017, 221, 3-5

Hunger, craving and appetite

Obesity is on the rise. It costs, and it kills, big time. Millions are invested in research, experts conduct countless studies, meet, write and discuss, more millions are invested in lifestyle intervention and education measures and still, apparently, we are reduced to helplessly watching modern Western societies overeat, fail to move and suffer from the consequences. Such a number of both popular and scholarly articles has been generated that even without much deliberate cherry-picking, culprits can be found and identified, with educational deficits, common genetic aberrations or the pharmaceutical/entertainment/food industry among the popular ones.

  1. B. Persson1, 2 and A. B. Persson1

1Charité-Universitaetsmedizin Berlin, corporate member of Freie Universitaet Berlin, Humbodt-Universitaet zu Berlin, and Berlin Institute of Health, Berlin, Germany

2Institute of Vegetative Physiology, Berlin, Germany

E-mail: pontus.persson@charite.de

HTML: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/apha.12917/full

PDF: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/apha.12917/pdf

August Issue 2017, 220, 398-401


The complement system in kidney diseases

The complement system, a plasma component, was described upon its discovery to augment the opsonization of bacteria by antibodies, ‘complementing’ said antibodies’ antibacterial activity. In its first and fore-most role, the complement cascade helps convert pathogen recognition into an effective host defence. Two recent publications in Acta Physiologica have highlighted the role of complement factors in immune cell function, namely monoamine transmitter release from immune cells during immune response and inflammation.1,2

  1. Reuter and R. Mrowka

Klinik für Innere Medizin III, AG Experimentelle Nephrologie, Universitätsklinikum Jena,

Jena, Germany

E-mail: ralf.mrowka@med.uni-jena.de

HTML: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/apha.12909/full

PDF: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/apha.12909/pdf

July Issue 2017, 220, 303-306


Altitude sickness and altitude adaptation

For as long as humanity can recall, it has probably been a dream of mankind to conquer mountainous heights and the mysterious deep. Loss of innocence is a common theme across ancient religions. Ancient Hindu legend has an interesting variation on the story: when Brahma realized that man did not deserve divinity, he decided to take it from them and hide it, but where? Brahma did what researchers up to present day are familiar with: ask your peers, in his case, a board of other gods. Brainstorming yielded a number of potential hiding places. Wise Brahma, however, knew a thing or two about the human spirit: ‘One day, they will dig deep into the earth, learn to dive into the ocean, eventually climb every mountain and find divinity’. While, in the Bible, human curiosity eventually led to the Expulsion from the Garden of Eden, it is human curiosity that Brahma feared would eventually lead humans to regain divinity. And yes, they did dig deep into the earth, learn to dive into the ocean and, eventually, climb every mountain.

  1. B. Persson1 and A. B. Persson2

1Institute of Vegetative Physiology, Charité-Universitaetsmedizin Berlin, Berlin, Germany

2Charité-Universitaetsmedizin Berlin, Berlin, Germany

E-mail: pontus.persson@charite.de

HTML:  http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/apha.12894/full

PDF: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/apha.12894/pdf

June Issue 2017, 220, 177-178


Research funding: do you get what you pay for?

Our society is based on transactions. As customers, we expect to be treated not only politely, but obligingly, by the providers of products or services we pay for. Return policies ensure that, more often than not, we actually get what we pay for. Significantly more often. And then, everything is different when research is funded commercially. If, however, customers get what they pay for, this is nice material for a little scandal.1 This intro is meant to be provocative, but it may be worth attempting a look behind a field that has much more than COI declarations.

  1. B. Persson1 and A. B. Persson2

1Institute of Vegetative Physiology, Charité-Universitaetsmedizin Berlin, Berlin, Germany

2Charité-Universitaetsmedizin Berlin, Berlin, Germany

E-mail: pontus.persson@charite.de

HTML:  http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/apha.12886/full

PDF: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/apha.12886/pdf

April Issue 2017, 219, 697-699


Arterial Hypertension

Blood pressure is an important determinant in the progression of many cardiovascular and renal diseases. The interest of the physiologists in this topic is reflected in the high number of articles that appeared in Acta Physiologica recently. About 20% of the articles in Acta Physiologica contain the keyword blood pressure or hypertension in the year 2016. According to the semantic analysis website gopubmed.org, the term pressure is top rating among all semantic “concepts” in Acta Physiologica if one looks at the years 2014–2016.

  1. Mrowka

Klinik fuer Innere Medizin III, AG Experimentelle Nephrologie, Universitaetsklinikum Jena, Jena, Germany


HTML:  http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/apha.12855/full

PDF: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/apha.12855/epdf

March Issue 2017, 219, 537-539


Vitamin supplementation

An apple a day keeps the doctor away – you may have heard the phrase more than once, as it has become so famous that translated versions circulate in a number of modern languages [‘una mela al giorno toglie il medico di torno’]. More than three millennia before the concept of vitamins became common knowledge, ancient Egyptian and Babylonian text described a diet of liver to cure night blindness (Dowling & Wald 1958). However, it took mankind a very long time to, from there, discover vitamins.

  1. B. Persson1 and A. B. Persson2

1Institute of Vegetative Physiology, Charité-Universitaetsmedizin Berlin, Berlin, Germany

2Charité-Universitaetsmedizin Berlin, Berlin, Germany

E-mail: pontus.persson@charite.de

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February Issue 2017, 219, 337-338


You are not alone

Be assured, not alone at all, indifferent what you wish for. Between you and me and the bedpost, you are even outnumbered. Outnumbered by trillions of tiny individuals living, laughing and eating on and inside you. Actually, the numbers are a little scary: its 10 : 1 microorganisms vs. humans, and, in terms of genes, we are even talking about an incredible 100 : 1 ratio. So, dear advocates of individualism, we are literally more bug than human. And as our little cohabitants have followed us on our journey through evolution, we better continue to cooperate in order to stay healthy.

  1. Ludwig, A. Högner and A. Patzak

Institut fuer Vegetative Physiologie, Charité, Universitaetsmedizin Berlin, Berlin, Germany

E-mail: marion.ludwig@charite.de

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January Issue 2017, 219, 3-8

Exercise for healthy flow

The year 2010 marked the 2500th anniversary of the battle of Marathon, in which the army of the Persian King Darius I invaded Greece and fought the Athenians. In the aftermath, the Greek messenger Pheidippides ran non-stop from Marathon to Athen and proclaimed ‘Nenikekamen’ (We were victorious!) (Plutarch, 4–125). This story inspired people for centuries. Today, long-distance running is a popular physical and mental challenges (Parto et al. 2016). Exercise is seen as vital for the well-being and a cornerstone of disease prevention and rehabilitation in ageing western societies. However, the continuous exposure to strenuous exercise may have negative side effects as well, and intensive training is seen as problematic. Pheidippides died upon completion of mankind’s first Marathon.

  1. Hillmeister1,2, E. Buschmann1,2, P. B. Persson3 and A. Bondke Persson2

1Department for Angiology, Center for Internal Medicine I, Clinic Brandenburg, Medical

University Brandenburg (MHB), Brandenburg an der Havel, Germany

2Charité-Universitaetsmedizin Berlin, Berlin, Germany

3Institute of Vegetative Physiology, Charité-Universitaetsmedizin Berlin, Berlin, Germany

E-mail: p.hillmeister@klinikum-brandenburg.de

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December Issue 2016, 218, 228-230

Keeping in synch

Have you ever felt socially jet lagged? Running out of time? Or that everyone around you just keeps running late? If the answer is yes, this might not only be your subjective feeling, but rather a measurable outcome in a society comprising young and old, owls and larks, and all of them with clocks running in different periods, phases and amplitudes.

  1. Tuvia1, P. B. Persson2 and A. Bondke Persson3

1Laboratory of Chronobiology, Institute for Medical Immunology, Charité-Universitaetsmedizin Berlin, Berlin, Germany

2Institute of Vegetative Physiology, Charité-Universitaetsmedizin Berlin, Berlin, Germany

3Charité-Universitaetsmedizin Berlin, Berlin, Germany

E-mail: neta.tuvia@charite.de


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November Issue 2016, 218, 149-151

Channels and channelopathies

Ion channels form pores to gate ion flux across cell membranes, enabling cells to generate resting membrane potentials and action potentials and to regulate cell volume, for example. Tiny, yet intricately complex integral membrane proteins form ion channels that are present in an impressive multitude of classes and structures. Classified by their gatekeeper mechanisms, voltage-controlled (Salunkhe et al. 2015) (Zhang et al. 2014) and ligand-controlled (Barragan et al. 2015) channels may be distinguished from the channels controlled by biochemical modification through, for example, phosphorylation (Lang et al. 2015). Other examples include mechanosensitive channels of the transient receptor potential families (Pedersen et al. 2015).

  1. B. Persson1 and A. Bondke Persson2

1Institute of Vegetative Physiology, Charité-Universitaetsmedizin Berlin, Berlin, Germany

2Charité-Universitaetsmedizin Berlin, Berlin, Germany

E-mail: pontus.persson@charite.de


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October Issue 2016, 218, 65-66


What you get is even more than what you see: ‘Nature’s most exquisite creation’ (Yong 2016), a.k.a. ‘miracle of design’ (Paley 1825) has a long tradition of fascinating scientists and philosophers through the centuries. It was Charles Darwin himself who considered the evolution of such highly complex organ as the eye as ‘absurd in the highest possible degree’ (Darwin 1859) – yet, given that ‘numerous gradations from a simple and imperfect eye to one complex and perfect can be shown to exist, each grade being useful to its possessor’ (ibid), Darwin explained the evolution of the mammalian visual organs to be absolutely feasible. The results of this complex evolutionary process do not fail to fascinate to the present day.

  1. B. Persson1 and A. Bondke Persson2

1Institute of Vegetative Physiology, Charité-Universitaetsmedizin Berlin, Berlin, Germany

2Charité-Universitaetsmedizin Berlin, Berlin, Germany


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September Issue 2016, 218, 3-4


Fatigue and fatigue-related symptoms are a general practitioner’s nightmare. Almost everybody knows what is meant by the term. Everyone has experienced it; yet no one is able to reliably quantify or document fatigue or ‘feeling weaker than usual’ for a patient’s record. A couple of years ago, a German company came up with a clever service idea, mostly catering to family physicians and first-line caregivers: Upon entering their office in the morning, they would find a fax (yes, those were the times) on their desk, informing them about the usually rare, exotic and dangerous diseases which had been discussed in a popular healthrelated TV show the night before, and whose main symptoms would usually be unspecific, fatigue being very high up on the list.

  1. B. Persson1 and A. Bondke Persson2

1Institute of Vegetative Physiology, Charité-Universitaetsmedizin Berlin, Berlin, Germany

2Charité-Universitaetsmedizin Berlin, Berlin, Germany


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August Issue 2016, 217, 270-271

Opiate of the masses

With the holiday season approaching in Western Europe, for many, it is now time to check the first-aid travel kit. Just in time for this, the FDA recently made the headlines on 7 June 2016, announcing ‘next steps’ in the seemingly bizarre case series of fatal overdoses of common over-the-counter antidotes for Montezuma’s revenge. According to the recent safety statement, ‘serious heart problems occurred in individuals who were intentionally misusing and abusing high doses of loperamide in attempts to self-treat opioid withdrawal symptoms or to achieve a feeling of euphoria’ (FDA 2016). Wow. Usually, ‘Imodium’ and ‘euphoria’ do not usually sit peacefully side by side in one sentence, or so the odd physiologist might have thought, while at the same time her colleagues on call in the emergency room are fighting for the life of an individual having taken up to 20 times the recommended daily dose at once, and while National Poison Centers in the USA have been seeing a 71% rise in calls related to loperamide overdoses since 2011 only (Eggleston et al. 2016). On pages such as howtoquitheroin.com, high-dose loperamide is recommended for quitting heroine while working. ‘How much you take is entirely up to you’: A verbatim citation from that page regarding loperamide dosage pretty much nails down the problem of OTC opioid derivatives, which may soon be history.

Pontus B. Persson

Institute of Vegetative Physiology, Charité-Universitaetsmedizin Berlin, Berlin, Germany

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July Issue 2016, 217, 178-179

ExActa: blood pressure

High blood pressure plays a prominent role in the development of cardiovascular disease such as stroke and myocardial infarction. On the other hand, low blood pressure may also predict cardiovascular disease risk in subpopulations such as haemodialysis patients (Anker et al. 2016) according to a recent study in almost 5000 patients in a European cohort.

R. Mrowka and S. Reuter

Klinik fuer Innere Medizin III, AG Experimentelle Nephrologie, Universitaetsklinikum Jena, Jena, Germany

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June Issue 2016, 217, 97-98

Time is of the essence

Time, to us, is a man-made concept penetrating all aspects of our life.

Many research projects in physiology and related disciplines today deal with genetic programming and its determination of behavioural processes. Few realize that the concept of genes programming behaviour is not as old as it may seem: Only in the 1970s did researchers verify a substrate for genetically programmed behavioural processes, namely heritable mutations in fruit flies which would alter their behavior in response to time and timing (Bass 2011). Circadian rhythms are too fascinating to be treated here as a sideline, so look forward to another article in this series to feature this topic in the near future.

Pontus B. Persson

Institute of Vegetative Physiology, Charité-Universitaetsmedizin Berlin, Berlin, Germany

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May Issue 2016, 217, 3-5


Mammals and birds are endothermic animals that control their body temperature very tightly. Keeping the central body temperature within a narrow range allows many essential mechanisms such as kidney function and central nervous activity to operate with high precision. Further, this type of thermoregulation allows mammals and birds to be physically active for hunting and travelling with lesser dependence on environmental temperatures, which in turn increases the degrees of freedom for living and thus evolutionary fitness.

S. Reuter and R. Mrowka

Klinik fuer Innere Medizin III, AG Experimentelle Nephrologie, Universitaetsklinikum Jena, Jena, Germany

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April Issue 2016, 216, 379-382


When consulting a medical doctor, the most common question we all probably have heard is ‘Where does it hurt?’. Subsequently, the patient is describing the symptoms, and in some cases, various body fluids will be checked for cell numbers, hormone levels or pathogens. For the past decades, more and more molecules have been measured additionally, among them many so-called biomarkers (Nilsson et al. 2013, Syed Ikmal et al. 2013, Dai et al. 2015, Gorgens et al. 2016, Lees 2015, Simonsen & Boedtkjer 2015, Vanhoutte et al. 2015). The concept of using biomarkers is a progressive and quite young medical approach. Biomarkers can be helpful in detecting pathological changes in an early stadium of disease, before specific symptoms occur, and are therefore used as indicators for diagnosis. On the other hand, biomarkers are measured after biopsy of resected tumour tissues to predict a prognosis of the patient’s outcome and tailor the medication to the individual person. Further areas of application include the stratification of prospective responders and non-responders to medication, or therapeutic monitoring to keep the effectivity of the drug under surveillance.

S. Dietze and A. Patzak

Institute of Vegetative Physiology, Charité-Universitaetsmedizin Berlin, Berlin, Germany

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March Issue 2016, 216, 262-264

Salt: a matter of balance

Once upon a time, an ancient king tried to find out which of his three daughters was most deserving of his kingdom. He called for the three princesses and asked them how much they loved him. While the oldest replied that she loved him as much as she loved pearls and precious stones, the middle daughter compared her love for him to her love of the sun light. Very pleased, he waited for the reply of his secret favourite, the youngest. When she compared her love for him to the love of the people for salt, the hurt and disappointed king exiled her from her home. Later, as the story goes, she secretly returns to the palace as a cook, and it takes just one beautifully prepared and decorated, but unsalted meal for the king to realize who of the three was most deserving of becoming the queen of his lands.

Pontus B. Persson

Institute of Vegetative Physiology, Charité-Universitaetsmedizin Berlin, Berlin, Germany

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February Issue 2016, 216, 149-152


In North-western Europe, with the holiday season safely behind us, daily laboratory routine is back, and with a concept we use on an almost daily basis, but rarely ever think about: stress.

The everyday use of the term itself has a rather interesting history, from material science to a negatively connoted disruption of homeostasis to a defining feature of the successful young professional in the 21st century. Let’s take a look from the physiologist’s perspective:

In physics, stress is a physical quantity. It describes the forces which adjacent particles within a continuous material exert on each other – not, and this is important, the reaction of the material to these forces – in physics, that would be strain.

P. B. Persson and A. Zakrisson                                                                                                Institute of Vegetative Physiology, Charité-Universitaetsmedizin Berlin, Berlin, Germany

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January Issue 2016, 216, 3-6

Does exercise increase insulin sensitivity through angiotensin 1-7?

Glucose homeostasis in humans and other mammals is regulated by the concerted contributions of several organs and systems. One of the quantitatively most important events for maintaining this equilibrium is glucose transport in skeletal muscle. The main physiological mediators that stimulate this process are insulin and exercise. Each triggers the translocation of glucose transporter type 4 (GLUT4), the predominant GLUT in muscle, from the interior of the cell to the plasma membrane by means of distinct mechanisms. In addition, exercise can increase insulin-mediated glucose transport in skeletal muscle and improve whole-body insulin sensitivity (Maarbjerg et al. 2011, Stanford & Goodyear 2014).

O. Echeverría-Rodríguez, I. A. Gallardo-Ortíz and R. Villalobos-Molina                        Unidad de Investigaci_on en Biomedicina,                                                                         Facultad de Estudios Superiores Iztacala (FESIztacala),                                           Universidad Nacional Aut_onoma de M_exico (UNAM),                                        Tlalnepantla, Edo. de M_exico, Mexico

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December Issue 2015, 215, 159-160


If asked to give a short introduction to the concept of gene transcription and the role of transcription factors therein, would you be able to? Sure, we thought – and started reading. Gene expression, the process necessary to transmit information from genetically encoded information into functional processes within a living organism, is where it all starts. Basic principles are followed, which have proved so successful that they are used by prokaryotes and eukaryotes alike.

P. B. Persson and M. Mueller Institute of Vegetative Physiology, Charité-Universitaetsmedizin Berlin, Berlin, Germany

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November Issue 2015, 215, 119-122

Dietary supplements: health from the ocean?

Physiology, the ancient science of life and of the functions of all things living, as we have been taught, has constantly developed and diversified since its beginnings in antiquity. No matter how specialized modern-day physiologists may be: the great researchers and teachers in the field have always been striving to not only to loose touch to the ground and but to keep on answering the daily questions that people come up with.

P. B. Persson1 and A. Zakrisson2

1Institute of Vegetative Physiology, Charité-Universitaetsmedizin Berlin, Berlin, Germany

2Department of Ecology, Environment and Plant Sciences, Stockholm University, Stockholm, Sweden

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September Issue 2015, 215, 2-4

High expectations: from treatment to prevention

In 2013, Mexico dethroned the USA being the world’s most obese populous country. Unfortunately, this is not due to successful measures in the USA. The dubious title was achieved because currently almost 70% of Mexican adults are overweight. Still, we should not point our fingers at the nations abroad, as our globalized world obviously shares the cravings for a socalled unhealthy lifestyle.

M. Ludwig and A. Hoegner

Institut fuer Vegetative Physiologie, Charité

Universitaetsmedizin Berlin, Berlin, Germany

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July Issue 2015, 214, 291-294

The metabolic syndrome: the future is now

Just in the beginning of the last century, infectious diseases and malnutrition were most life threatening for the world0s population. Today, we are threatened by a slower killing enemy: dysfunction in metabolic processes caused by the Western lifestyle and food (Swinburn et al. 2011). Our sedentary way of life in combination with unhealthy food, rich in fat and sugar, brought us obesity and the metabolic syndrome (Symonds et al. 2009). The worldwide prevalence of obesity rises dramatically among children, adolescents and adults, not only in the Western countries but also in other countries (Seidell 2000). The WHO expects about 300 million people worldwide suffering from metabolic syndrome and associated disorders in the year 2025 (Seidell 2000, Schmerbach & Patzak 2014). The metabolic syndrome also called syndrome X is defined by obesity and several cardiovascular risk factors such as lipid abnormalities, high blood pressure and impaired glucose tolerance as well as a proinflammatory and prothrombotic state (Alberti et al. 2006, Morrow 2014). This cluster of symptoms predisposes for the development of several complications such as cardiovascular disease, non-alcoholic fatty liver disease and type 2 diabetes leading to enormous financial burdens for societies all over the world (Berrington de Gonzalez et al. 2010, King 2011, Swinburn et al. 2011, Persson & Bondke Persson 2013, Xiong et al. 2014). Excessive caloric intake is facilitated by eating strongly processed, industrially produced food (Mozaffarian et al. 2011, Swinburn et al. 2011).

S. Reuter and R. Mrowka

Klinik für Innere Medizin III, AG Experimentelle Nephrologie, Universitätsklinikum Jena, Jena, Germany

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May Issue 2015, 214, 6-7

TRPs revisited

Perception of potentially harmful or toxic environmental stimuli is critical for survival of, but not only, highly differentiated organisms. Transient receptor potential (TRP) channels are mostly membrane receptors, located on an extensive array of animal cells from a wide variety of species. More than 45 years ago, Derek Cosens and Aubrey Manning reported to have created a ‘mutant strain of Drosophila melanogaster which, though behaving phototactically positive in a T-maze under low ambient light, is visually impaired and behaves as though blind in a simple optomotor apparatus where normal, wild-type flies will orientate to visual cues’ (Cosens & Manning 1969). Loss of TRP in D. melanogaster results in a transient response (therefore the name) to light, while physiologically, D. melanogaster light response shows sustained photoreceptor cell activity.

P. B. Persson

Institute of Vegetative Physiology, Charité- Universitaetsmedizin Berlin, Berlin, Germany

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April Issue 2015, 214, 747-749

The multiple functions of the endothelium: more than just wallpaper

The interfaces of the circulating blood (or lymphatic fluid) and the respective vascular walls are lined with a thin single layer of squamous cells of mesodermal origin, functionally constituting a highly complex system, the endothelium. Although descriptions of the circulatory system and speculations on its function have been documented since early antiquity, the first descriptions of an endothelial cell layer date back to the second half of the 19th century, probably owing to the technological developments which permitted researchers at that time to look at increasingly small biological structures. Remarkably, structure and function of the endothelium were described separately during the 1860s, and it was not until much later that the connection between the two was made: Following Wilhelm His’ description of the endothelial cell layer in 1865 (His 1865), heated discussions erupted on whether this newly described structure was indeed relevant at all functionally, or even deserved differentiation from epithelial linings (Laubichler et al. 2007). Almost simultaneously, Julius Cohnheim published his insights into leucocyte adhesion during inflammation in the frog tongue model (Cohnheim 1873), while the discovery of the concept of endothelial activation, including upregulation of adhesion molecules, cell adhesion and coagulative activation, took more than another century (Laubichler et al. 2007). Heinrich Wilhelm Gottfried von Waldeyer-Hartz narrowed down the concept of the endothelium to blood and lymph vessels (Waldeyer 1901), and in 1908, the endothelium had found its way into Gray’s Anatomy as a layer of cells ‘flat, irregular in outline, and [. . .] united by a cement material’ (DaCosta & Spitzka 1908).

P. B. Persson

Institute of Vegetative Physiology, Charité- Universitaetsmedizin Berlin, Berlin, Germany

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March Issue 2015, 213, 537-538

Skeletal muscle satellite cells as myogenic progenitors for muscle homoeostasis, growth, regeneration and repair

There is life in the old dog yet: physiologists around the world, but not only them, cannot help but notice that the demise of their specialty as an outdated science has been forecasted a little too soon (Barman et al. 2013). Mainly evident at larger interdisciplinary meetings and when course titles were to be selected, exercise and muscle physiology, for example, had seemed to have lost their sex appeal to molecular biology and imaging techniques which nowadays enable the curious to take a peek at increasingly smaller building blocks of life on earth. However, not only do exercise and muscle physiology provide the knowledge bases for those who care for athletes that rack in billions and entertain the masses. With both the advent of regenerative medicine and anti-ageing strategies to answer the needs of a (demographically changing) Western world, cells directed to specialized cell fates have been recognized to hold great promise as source materials for treating numerous disorders (Fox et al. 2014). Among those, skeletal muscle satellite cells play a major role as myogenic progenitors available for muscle homoeostasis, growth, regeneration and repair. Recent studies offer an insight into the fascinating biology of these progenitors, with implications for regenerative and anti-ageing strategies. In contrast to earlier assumptions, chronic lifelong exercise does not seem to exhaust the satellite cell pool, which is critically involved in muscle growth (Mackey et al. 2014, Parise 2014). Satellite cells do age, however, and experimental silencing of p16 (INK4a) seems to restore their regenerative function (Sousa-Victor et al. 2014). Circulating growth differentiation factor 11 (GDF11) experimentally restores skeletal muscle regenerative function (Sinha et al. 2014). Sexual hormones are critical players in muscle homoeostasis and regeneration, an effect which seems to be at least in part exerted through their effect on satellite cells (Dalbo & Roberts 2014, Diel 2014, Kvorning et al. 2014, Mangan et al. 2014). Myoblast fusion is another crucial topic we are beginning to understand better through studies that identify its initiating factors (Hochreiter-Hufford et al. 2013, Yu & Baylies 2013), molecular players (Krause et al. 2013) and switch points such as the newly identified membrane protein Myomaker (Millay et al. 2013).

P. B. Persson

Institute of Vegetative Physiology, Charité- Universitaetsmedizin Berlin, Berlin, Germany

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January Issue 2015, 213, 1-2

Life, death and immortality

Since the childhood of humanity, man has been fascinated by the concept of mortality and the idea of the presence of immortals, may they be heavenly creatures, demons from an ancient world or etheric beings walking the earth, unseen, among us mere mortals. How fascinating it must have been when scientists, for the first time, could actually see the biochemical structure that contains immortal information, our genetic code, and which is, in its own way, immortal when transmitted from one generation to the other. (In today’s world of highthroughput molecular biology, the sight of precipitated DNA in a test tube is, of course, no longer sensational. Rather, one might hear the occasional swear word when precipitation at that time in the protocol was not intended.) Creatures die, while their structural design plan does not. But not only are they capable of passing on these blueprints from generation to generation, but also to sacrifice individual cells or even tissues in a controlled manner for the common good of the whole body.

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P. B. Persson

Institute of Vegetative Physiology, Charite´- Universitaetsmedizin Berlin, Berlin, Germany

November Issue 2014, 212, 189-190

Extreme environments

As a physiologist, one can often not help but marvel at the versatility of the mammalian body with regard to its adaptability to changing environments. In an earlier contribution to the Exacta series, we have discussed the latest developments in research on thermoregulation, introducing the tiny water bear (tardigrade), which is equipped with resources to not only withstand temperatures near absolute zero or centuries without any water, but also being shot into outer space (Persson & Persson 2012). With increasing structural complexity, organisms become, obviously, more restricted to certain environmental conditions. Mammals, nevertheless, survive and often thrive in environments ranging from tropical rainforests to eternal ice, but are, however, more limited than small eukaryotes when it comes to pressure, radiation or toxin exposure, to name but a few. Changing climatic conditions induce a change in the spectrum of mammals inhabiting certain regions of the globe (World Wildlife Fund 2014); mammals try to migrate or adapt – if they can (Schloss et al. 2012).

A. Bondke Persson and P. B. Persson

Institute of Vegetative Physiology, Charite´- Universitaetsmedizin Berlin, Berlin, Germany

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September Issue 2014, 212, 1-4

Selective endothelin inhibition in diabetic nephropathy: is it the icing on the cake?

The most potent intrinsic vasoconstrictor known so far is a 21 amino acid (aa) peptide discovered in endothelial cells in 1988 and, hence, named endothelin (ET). Meanwhile, endothelin has come of age as a factor highly involved in various biological pathways and diseases including inflammation, tissue growth and remodelling (Ahnstedt et al. 2012, Aro et al. 2013), pulmonary and systemic hypertension (Lundgren et al. 2012, Palei et al. 2013), sympathetic nervous activity, salt balance (Zicha et al. 2012), cardiac function (Perjes et al. 2012), arterial hypertension, ageing (Nyberg et al. 2013) etc., while ageing in turn modulates the endothelin system (Lind et al. 2013). Several in-depth reviews have covered the field (Vignon-Zellweger et al. 2011, Dhaun et al. 2012, Rapoport & Zuccarello 2012, Horinouchi et al. 2013, Kohan 2013, Kohan & Pollock 2013, Kuruppu et al. 2013, Moorhouse et al. 2013).

C. Rosenberger1 and M. Fähling2

1Institute of Nephrology and Renal Transplantation, Charite-Universitaetsmedizin Berlin, Berlin, Germany

2Institute of Vegetative Physiology, Charite- Universitaetsmedizin Berlin, Berlin, Germany

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August Issue 2014, 211, 539-540

The best years

In a society devoted to the myth of the ever-young, slim, healthy, ready-to-mate and thus aesthetically pleasing human body, ageing has, no wonder, negative connotations. It almost feels as if society considers the very process to be one’s own fault – have you not exercised enough, not eaten properly? Change, however, is a rather popular concept and has probably been even before Barack Obama’s 2008 landslide presidential campaign, to a degree at which ‘change as a vast metaphysical and moral principle’ has replaced not only political content (McClay 2008). It may come as a surprise that ageing is, by scientific definition, nothing more or less than an accumulation of changes over time (Bowen & Atwood 2004). Running gags among scientists include the ‘hot terms’ that will get your paper or proposal accepted, and currently, with both the NIH and the EU focusing their research efforts according to the demographic changes expected for the 22nd century, and sending funds this way, ageing is definitely one of them (guess another).

A. Bondke Persson and P. B. Persson

Institute of Vegetative Physiology, Charite´- Universitaetsmedizin Berlin, Berlin, Germany

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July Issue 2014, 211, 468-470

Form and function in the vascular system

While most peer-reviewed papers published worldwide are signed by a European author, the ratio of EU’s contribution to the 10% most-cited scientific publications lags behind the ratio for the United States (European Commission 2012). Having spent time at a high-ranking US laboratory still constitutes a special accolade for researchers all over Europe in the daily battle for funds and tenure. This is in stark contrast to the incredibly low public knowledge about and acceptance of scientific results in the US (Miller et al. 2006). It was probably in this context that FASEB launched their now world-famous, large-scale ‘Take a Stand for Science’ campaign in late 2006.

A. Bondke Persson and P. B. Persson

Institute of Vegetative Physiology, Charite´- Universitaetsmedizin Berlin, Berlin, Germany

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June Issue 2014, 211, 251-256

Leucocyte telomere length as marker for cardiovascular ageing

Already, the ancient Greeks established theories to explain unusual longevity. Herodotus, an ancient Greek historian, mentions a fountain of youth to explain the remarkably long-life expectancy (120 years) of the Macrobian people (Herodotus 450–420 BC) (Fig. 1). The underlying question remained the same over the centuries, although it is nowadays addressed with scientific means as, for example, in the New England Centenarian Study (Sebastiani & Perls 2012). However, a ‘universal youth code’ remains to be found. This review focuses on recent progress in understanding how the immune system ages and how it thereby influences the world’s No 1 cause of mortality: cardiovascular disease (WHO 2013).

A. Zietzer and P. Hillmeister

Charité – Universitaetsmedizin Berlin, Center for Cardiovascular Research & Experimental and Clinical Research Center, Richard-Thoma-Laboratories for Arteriogenesis, Berlin, Germany

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May Issue 2014, 211, 1-4


The diffusion of oxygen as the sole mechanism is by far too inefficient to meet the required energy demand of human life. The mechanism of convection by an oxygen transporter made higher multicellular life on earth possible. In this context, evolution has brought up the cardiovascular system with the heart as the driving pumping organ. In medical school, students learn to appreciate that the pressure differences between the arterial and the venous system are the cause of blood flow. This approximately 100 mmHg mean arterial blood pressure is found at a cardiac output of 5 L min_1 and at a total peripheral resistance under resting conditions. The essential role of the cardiovascular system for higher animal life has also a down side: cardiovascular diseases account for approximately 40% of all deaths in the European Union ranging from about 30.6% in Spain up to 46.8% in Greece (OECD 2007). Elevated arterial blood pressure is a key risk factor leading to cardiovascular diseases such as heart failure (Meredith & Ostergren 2006), coronary artery disease (Girerd & Giral 2004), myocardial infarction (Messerli et al. 2007), congestive heart failure (Levy et al. 1996), stroke (Stamler et al. 1993) and other diseases, such as end-stage renal failure (Klag et al. 1996), and is also present in metabolic syndrome.

S. Reuter1, A. Patzak2 and R. Mrowka1

1Klinik fuer Innere Medizin III, AG Experimentelle Nephrologie, Universitaetsklinikum Jena, Jena, Germany

2Institut fuer Vegetative Physiologie, Charité-Universitaetsmedizin Berlin, Berlin, Germany

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April Issue 2014, 210, 702-704

The metabolic syndrome: is it the mother’s fault?

Today, eating habits in Western societies are to a large extent mirrored by the abundance and easy access to palatable food rich in fat and sugar (Bellisle et al. 2012). Consequently, the global prevalence of the metabolic syndrome in children, adolescents and adults is increasing at an alarming rate (Symonds et al. 2009). An unhealthy diet together with a sedentary lifestyle has been claimed responsible for the dramatic rise in obesity and metabolic syndrome (Kongsted et al. 2014). The pathophysiology of the obesity epidaemic remains, therefore, a major target of research in modern physiology (Henkin et al. 2012, Wend et al. 2012, Wronska & Kmiec 2012, Chabowski et al. 2013, Cui et al. 2013). The WHO has estimated that 300 million people worldwide will suffer from the metabolic syndrome and its associated disorders in the year 2025 (Seidell 2000). New therapeutic strategies are intensely investigated (Chabowski et al. 2012, Kirilly et al. 2012, Nduhirabandi et al. 2012, Wei et al. 2013). Probably, the WHO projections are an underestimate because overweight during childhood and impaired insulin sensitivity are not only noticeably increasing but are occurring at a much earlier age (Tantisira et al. 2008). Furthermore, this increase in childhood obesity is particularly worrisome because it is very likely to persist into adulthood and is associated with a high risk of developing type 2 diabetes and several cardiovascular diseases later in life (Marchesini et al. 2005). Cardiovascular disease is no longer a burden of Western societies, but rises in developing economies at an alarming rate. Metabolic factors are critical determinants of cardiovascular pathologies, a link which is intensely studied (Blain et al. 2012, Hey-Mogensen et al. 2012, Phalitakul et al. 2013). Besides changes in diets combined with reduced physical activity (Vella et al. 2012, Rouffet et al. 2013, Svidnicki et al. 2013) – which are the best known attributable factors of obesity currently – there is an increasing awareness that maternal health and nutrition during pregnancy contribute to the accelerating incidence of obesity and cardiovascular disease (Heerwagen et al. 2010).

K. Schmerbach and A. Patzak

Institute of Vegetative Physiology, Charité-Universitaetsmedizin Berlin, Berlin, Germany

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March Issue 2014, 210, 455-457

The exocytotic machinery

Exocytosis is the mechanism by which a vesicle inside the cell fuses with the plasma membrane to release its contents into the extracellular environment. The process might sound trivial, but reduced expression or mutations in genes involved can cause a variety of disease

states. The exocytotic process is a necessary part of neurotransmitter release from the pre-synaptic side into the synaptic cleft as well as for secretion of hormones from neuroendocrine and endocrine cells. In these cells, it is a Ca2+-sensitive process although it has lately been demonstrated that the actual fusion of vesicles can occur in the absence of Ca2+ (Kiessling et al. 2013). However, an increase in intracellular Ca2+ is needed to get a structural release pattern (Sudhof & Rothman 2009).

L. Eliasson

Department of Clinical Sciences and Diabetes Centre, Lund University Malmö, Sweden

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February Issue 2014, 210, 229-230


It is late in winter, and many parts of Acta Physiologica’s countries of origin are still covered by a blanket of snow, which brings with it a desire for rest and hibernation that tends to spill over from the animal kingdom to our desks. Although as human beings, we are not, or no longer, permitted to sleep away the twilight times of the year, recurring circadian sleep is, and will probably be for a long time, a prerequisite for human life as we know it.

A. Bondke Persson and P. B. Persson

Institute of Vegetative Physiology, Charité-Universitaetsmedizin Berlin, Berlin, Germany

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January Issue 2014, 210, 2-4

Dealing with Radicals

Ask a non-physiologist neighbour with a career outside a laboratory, hospital or lecture hall: most probably, you will find that ‘radical’ or ‘reactive’ is not a term usually associated with an ageing population. For the biomedical scientist, however, the association between ageing and age-related pathologies and an accumulation of reactive species (or an accumulation of the damage done by them) has become a paradigm only recently challenged (Liochev 2013).

A. Bondke Persson and P. B. Persson

Institute of Vegetative Physiology, Charite´- Universitaetsmedizin Berlin, Berlin, Germany

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December Issue 2013, 209, 246-249

Pathophysiological mechanisms in acute mountain sickness

In recent years, popularity of adventure travel and mountain activities has strongly increased. For example, since the 1980s, a real break out of Mount Everest euphoria (Tibetan Chomolungma, Nepalese Sagarmatha, Chinese Qomolangma, 8.848 m) took place, which led to a significant increase in the number of ascents to the summit. Whereas in 1979 – within 27 years since the initial ascent – only 99 people reached the summit, between 1980 and 1985, there was a doubling in reaching the summit in just 6 years. In the record season of 2007, the highest point of 633 mountaineers was achieved (2013).

K. Schmerbach and A. Patzak

Institute of Vegetative Physiology, Charité-Universitaetsmedizin Berlin, Berlin, Germany

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November Issue 2013, 209, 193-194

The physiologist: researcher, inventor, physician, educator and visionary

Is ‘The Physiologist’ an endangered species? Our professional profile, as it has been emerging over the last centuries, is, undoubtedly, a dynamic one. And so it should be, it must be: Charles Darwin knew already that it is neither the strongest nor the most intelligent species that survive, but the ones responsive to change (Megginson 1963). And change we did: From the origins of physiology around 350 B.C.E., when Aristotle described the indispensable relation of structure and function in all things living, to the professional image of Catherine de’Medicis physician Jean Fernel coining the term ‘physiologist’ almost two millennia later (Gordetsky et al. 2009), from the avalanche-like accumulation of physiological knowledge that started in the 1800s (Larsen et al. 2011, Persson 2012b, Stjärne & Persson 2012) to modern-day molecular studies being confirmed in vivo with utmost care and respect for the living (Persson & Henriksson 2011, Westerhof 2011) and careful, conscious interpretation (Bie 2012). Our work has crossed borders between countries, cultures and disciplines, every day, and forms an important part of the foundations of the modern-day knowledge-based society (Persson 2012d).

A. Bondke Persson and P. B. Persson

Institute of Vegetative Physiology, Charite´- Universitaetsmedizin Berlin, Berlin, Germany

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October Issue 2013, 209, 91-93

G – Proteins – receptors, signals and function

In 1884, Robert Koch took the first-ever look at Vibrio cholerae, a tiny comma-shaped organism causing one of the major scourges of humanity, the cholera epidemics. Vibrio’s is among the most effective bacterial toxins: having passed the plasma membrane of the intestinal cell, one single molecule is able to activate an almost unlimited number of heterotrimeric G-proteins by ADP ribosylation. The G-protein stays permanently active, leading to the synthesis of massive amounts of cyclic AMP, which rapidly corrupt the cellular messenging systems. Cholera symptoms are caused by the unlimited relocation and insertion of CFTR Cl_ channels into and blockage of the Na+ resorption at the luminal membrane, with sudden excessive losses of NaCl and water into the intestinal lumen.

A. Bondke Persson

Institute of Vegetative Physiology, Charité-Universitaetsmedizin Berlin, Berlin, Germany

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September Issue 2013, 209, 1-4

What is hypoxia?

Studies about reduced oxygen level – hypoxia – affecting energy metabolism, gene expression, hormone secretion and responses, apoptosis, behaviour of organisms, ecosystem function, etc. are very common. Investigations span from molecular biology of cancer to eutrophication of marine environments. Because hypoxia studies are so common, for example, American Physiological Society has a special interest group on the topic. In the recent past, Acta Physiologica has published detailed reviews on some aspects of molecular hypoxia responses (Fahling 2009a, Myllyharju 2013). Given that oxygen availability plays a role in both medicine and environmental science, one would expect that the terms used, such as hypoxia, were defined so that everyone would understand them in a similar fashion. This is, unfortunately, not the case. For scientists working in medical research, hypoxia is often considered a life-threatening situation, for a fish biologist, it is a normal event, which the organism must tolerate regularly. Accurate definition of hypoxia (reduced oxygen level) and how it differs from anoxia (complete lack of oxygen) is most important, as the responses to hypoxia and anoxia can be quite different (Wenger & Gassmann 1996).

M. Nikinmaa

Department of Biology, University of Turku, Turku, Finland

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August Issue 2013, 208, 289-291

Tools of our trade

The compartmentalization of living cells and the generation of chemical and electrical gradients are a prerequisite for life as we know it. A multitude of physiological processes critically depends on ion gradients and selective, regulated permeabilities, which in turn are based on the controlled flow of small inorganic ions over lipophilic membranes. Therefore, ion channels, exchangers and pumps have become to be considered tools of the trade of the physiologist per se.

A. Bondke Persson and P. B. Persson

Institute of Vegetative Physiology, Charité-Universitaetsmedizin Berlin, Berlin, Germany

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July Issue 2013, 208, 215-217

On Beauty

Beauty, we may assume, has fascinated mankind from its earliest beginnings. As the Oxford Dictionary tells us, beauty is ‘a combination of qualities […] that pleases the aesthetic senses, especially the sight’ (Oxford Dictionary 2013). The Italian novelist philosopher Umberto Eco explained the ‘History of Beauty’ (Eco 2004) throughout the ages to a wider audience. Although highly debated in professional circles, he did bring the concept from art history to the lay public. Not only does Eco follow descriptions and depictions through the ages, but carefully differentiates beauty from attraction and the desire to possess. Although he includes examples from literature and poetry, beauty appears mainly as a visual concept, and critics praise the book for its illustrative examples.

A. Bondke Persson and P. B. Persson

Institute of Vegetative Physiology, Charité-Universitaetsmedizin Berlin, Berlin, Germany

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June Issue 2013, 208, 144-147

Nitric oxide and reactive oxygen species in renal medulla pathophysiology – so small yet so special: the renal medulla

Few territories of our bodies are as remarkable and simultaneously as small as the renal medulla. Its ‘U’-shaped arrangement of vessels and tubules, the counter-current mechanism, the peculiar, selective ion transport and permeability of different segments to water and ions, and the resulting high osmolar milieu are indeed unique – actually, it is the length of this ‘U’-shaped loops that seems to ultimately determine the ability of the kidneys to concentrate urine (Schmidt-Nielsen & Schmidt-Nielsen 2011). No wonder that, since the classic works of Gottschalk and collaborators in the 1950s (Gottschalk & Mylle 1959), it is most commonly in the context of urine concentration that the renal medulla is thought about. But there are other reasons why the renal medulla should be remembered when talking about physiology and pathophysiology of the kidney, and we intend to call attention to some of them.

Nanmei Liu, Andreas Patzak, Mauricio M. Sendeski

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May Issue 2013, 208, 1-5

Animal models in cardiovascular research

At one point in life, be it as a doctor, as a colleague or a friend, we have all met him. Let’s call him Peter: aged 51, managing director of a successful company (or clinical department), he works 7 a.m.–9 p.m. on regular days, constantly checking for new mails while heading meetings, making phone calls and signing off critical orders; grabbing another fresh dossier while rushing past the fax machine, skipping lunch, postponing the visit to the gym for another time while only being forced to rest for some painful moments while the next espresso brews. A crushing pain in his chest wakes him at 4 a.m. the next morning, and if he is one of the lucky, he will later be told that it was a close call, indeed. Every year, more than 17 million people die of cardiovascular diseases (CVDs). In addition to almost archetypal Peter, deaths from CVDs are dramatically increasing in low- and middle-income countries, in young people, in women (World Health Organization et al. 2011).

A. Duelsner, A. Bondke Persson

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April Issue 2013, 207, 584-587

Sex differences in cardiovascular function

Nowadays, there is no doubt that numerous health problems are affected by factors related to sex. As reported by the Committee on Understanding the Biology of Sex & Gender Differences (2001), women are more susceptible than men to depression, osteoporosis, asthma, autoimmune diseases, lung cancer due to smoking etc. With regard to cardiovascular diseases, a growing number of experimental and clinical observations clearly indicate that differences between men and woman also play an important role (Leinwand 2003). Men are generally at greater risk than age-matched premenopausal women. This concerns not only ischaemic heart disease – the leading cause of mortality in both men and women in the developed countries – but also other cardiovascular disorders such as hypertension, arrhythmias or heart failure. The incidence of cardiovascular diseases in women increases markedly after menopause, suggesting that it may be related to the decreasing levels of oestrogen. Nevertheless, the outcome of hormonal replacement therapy in women during menopause has been controversial, resulting in both beneficial and adverse effects (Regitz-Zagrosek 2006).

F. Kolar and B. Ostadal Department of Developmental Cardiology, Institute of Physiology, Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic, Prague, Czech Republic

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March Issue 2013, 207, 427-429

Nitric oxide: a classic revisited

In nowadays’ fast-paced world, today’s news is, more than ever before, tomorrow’s history. Here, in Berlin, it has become a favoured student occupation to work as a professional queuer: busy young professionals hire a student who stands in line for them for the latest, hottest temporary exhibition from early in the morning and who then calls them half an hour before reaching the entrance and thus enables them to be up to date with the temporarily imported must-sees of the art world without standing in line themselves. Ironically, next door, you may leisurely stroll into the national galleries, where priceless treasures, the foundations of European art, are on show – permanently, so there’s no rush, and few actually go.

P. B. Persson and A. Bondke Persson Institute of Vegetative Physiology, Charité-Universitaetsmedizin Berlin, Berlin, Germany

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February Issue 2013, 207, 203-205

A Matter of Taste

Teaching in medical school can, as many of us know, be a burden and an enormous privilege at the same time (while all the time you wonder how it is that medical students become younger and younger these days). It is a truly elating experience to see the eyes of a student light up with understanding, sometimes you fight like Don Quichote against the windmills of bureaucracy, and sometimes questions in class send you back to the library. Lately, one of the lectures on satiety regulation prompted a discussion about the physiological background vs. the philosophical definition of hunger and appetite, of food aversion and craving and of the role of the human sensory systems, especially taste, in what we actually mean when we say that we ‘like’ something. We saw classroom discussions followed by chat forum articles posted at 2 a.m. on a topic we would not have expected to be perceived by our students as that sexy, and were taught otherwise. Let’s have a look at the current research results on taste coding and taste receptor signalling, which has recently been featured in some excellent articles in Acta Physiologica (Oxford).

P. B. Persson and A. Bondke Persson Institute of Vegetative Physiology, Charité-Universitaetsmedizin Berlin, Berlin, Germany

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January Issue 2013, 207, 1-4

Obesity:The BIG issue

‘Alright, admitted: too little exercise. On the other hand, if I was to touch my toes, should they not have been placed a bit higher up?’

The probability is high that you are reading this ExActa seated in front of a computer screen. Having reached the postdoctoral level, life at the bench may to a large degree have been substituted by data analysis, manuscript preparation, project management and grant acquisition, that is, most of your day will be spent at the desk, sedentary. The ability to earn your money from an office instead of from physical labour has until recently been regarded as a status symbol, and is still so, depending on our geographic, cultural and socioeconomic environment. December has passed, especially in the north-western hemispheres being regarded as a month of indulgent eating and sitting inside rather than braving the cold.

P. B. Persson and A. Bondke Persson Institute of Vegetative Physiology, Charité-Universitaetsmedizin Berlin, Berlin, Germany

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December Issue 2012, 206, 215-219

The Kallikrein–Kinin system

Pre-dating Hippocrates, more than 4000 years ago, human urine was already a fascinating research medium, climaxing in the renaissance. An oft-repeated story in the literature is that of a woman wishing to avoid a pregnancy diagnosis by blending her urine with that of a cow. Very much to her distress, the leche announced that both she and her cow were pregnant (Armstrong 2007)!

P. Hillmeister1 and P. B. Persson2 1Experimental and Clinical Research Center, Center for Cardiovascular Research, Charite´- Universitaetsmedizin Berlin, Berlin, Germany

2Institute of Vegetative Physiology, Charite´- Universitaetsmedizin Berlin, Berlin, Germany

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November Issue 2012, 206, 157-159

Ischaemia, reperfusion, pre-and post-conditioning: telling friend from foe

The mechanisms and consequences of ischaemic tissue damage have been textbook knowledge for centuries. Nevertheless, and presumably due to the fact that vascular occlusive disease remains the leading cause of death worldwide, recent advances in methodology have brought about an ever-more detailed understanding of the pathophysiology of the ischaemic cascade.

Bondke Persson and P. B. Persson Institute of Vegetative Physiology, Charité-Universitaetsmedizin Berlin, Berlin, Germany

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October Issue 2012, 206, 90-93

Cardiac electrophysiology: what is behind our two-billion heart beats?

Cardiac rhythm disturbances comprise a wide spectrum of heterogenous pathologies which, at best, go completely unnoticed by the patient. At worst, they kill instantaneously. Tragically, the latter, as is the case in sudden arrhythmic death syndrome, often affects the young without any structural heart disease (Fig. 1) and is not as rare as one may hope, causing an annual death toll of 180–250 000 in the United States alone (Chugh et al. 2008). However, if we take a step back to appreciate the complex architecture and tightly regulated functionality of the rhythm generation, the electrical conduction system and excitation– contraction coupling of the heart, together with its ability to rapidly adapt to changing demands made by the organism as a whole, one cannot help but marvel at the >2-billion healthy heartbeats our hearts carry out during life.

A. Bondke Persson and P. B. Persson Institute of Vegetative Physiology, Charité-Universitaetsmedizin Berlin, Berlin, Germany

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September Issue 2012, 206, 1-3

Cycling in physiology

Cycling is the use of bicycles for transport or exercise. Little did its inventor Baron Karl von Drais in 1817 supposedly expect the then ‘Dandy-horse’-called vehicle, his beloved Draisienne, to become the daily vehicle of choice for an estimated billion of people worldwide. Quotes from Nobel Laureates such as Albert Einstein, William Golding, William Saroyan, Christopher Morely and, currently, Venkatraman Ramakrishnan document their affection. John F. Kennedy called it ‘a simple pleasure’ that ‘nothing compares to’ (Argonauts 2012), Leo Tolstoy happily taught cycling to himself at age 67, and many a fellow physiologist do we know who hits the road on two unmotorized wheels every morning. Cycling is not only fun, but has tremendously advanced our understanding of physiological processes and has become an indispensable tool for the study of exerciserelated pathophysiologies.

A. Bondke Persson and P. B. Persson Institute of Vegetative Physiology, Charite´-Universitaetsmedizin Berlin, Berlin, Germany

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August Issue 2012, 205, 453-455

The renin-angiotensin system — a functional ‘jack-of-all-trades’

It is now more than two and a half century that blood pressure was measured for the first time by Stephen Hales in a dramatic experiment on a horse. About 150 years later, in 1897, the discovery of a pressor principle by Robert Tigerstedt and Per Bergman gave the first insight into the regulation of blood pressure when they described a substance from rabbit kidney extracts that increased blood pressure when injected into rabbits. They named this unknown pressor agent renin (de Gasparo et al. 2000). This pioneering work was published in the Scandinavian Archives of Physiology and, today, the 49-page article is considered as possibly Tigerstedts most important scientific contribution (Hirvonen & Timijorn 1990).

Authors: Kristin Schmerbach and Andreas Patzak, Charité-Universitaetsmedizin Berlin, Institute of Vegetative Physiology, Berlin, Germany

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July Issue 2012, 205, 321-323

Human movement science

An early afternoon in late March, I am of looking out over the spring-like Karolinska Institutet campus in Stockholm and thinking about some of the discoveries originating from the neighbouring buildings. The house closest to my window was once the prestigious Anatomy–Histology department. Today, this department does not exist, but the Petre´n Lecture hall remains to commemorate the legendary anatomist Ture Petre´n. I still have a vivid memory of Ture Petre ´n as a rather strict lecturer and examiner during my anatomy course in the fall of 1966. Petre´n’s close collaborator in the Anatomy department Sven Carlso¨o¨ worked on the biomechanics of the musculoskeletal system and wrote his thesis in 1952 on the ‘Nervous coordination and mechanical function of the mandibular elevators’ at the Royal Gymnastic Central Institute (GCI) in Stockholm. This Institute had been founded in 1813 by Pehr Henrik Ling, the father of medical gymnastics. Carlso¨o¨ was a pioneer in the area of human movement sciences and was active at a time where this research field underwent strong development owing to the entrance of computers. Carlso¨o¨ ’s book ‘How man moves’ (Carlso¨o¨ 1972) is a classical publication in this area and furthermore contains analyses of different sport-specific movements. In his January 2012 Editorial, the Acta Physiologica Chief Editor wrote about another person, who made an important contribution to human movement science, Emil Du Bois-Reymond (Persson 2012). Du Bois-Reymond, the father of experimental electrophysiology, made observations and performed method developments that paved the way for Electromyography. Interestingly, Du Bois-Reymond once had his laboratory in the same building at the Charite´ in Berlin, where the Acta Physiologica Chief Editor Pontus Persson and Editorial secretary Carola Neubert now reside.

Author: Prof. Dr. Jan Henriksson, Department of Physiology and Pharmacology at Karolinska Institutet Stockholm, Sweden

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June Issue 2012, 205, 191-193

Oxygen Sensing, Uptake, Delivery, Consumption and Related Disorders

How entertaining is hypoxia? Believe us, low oxygen pressure can really be a thrill: As a boy, we did the most odd things on the schoolyard, and one manoeuvre has remained a lasting memory: we squatted on the ground and hyperventilated. Next we stood up, inserted our thumb into our mouth and exhaled as hard as we could against it. Only many years later did it become clear to us why we became so dizzy, everything was trenched in white and why the world seemed so beautiful. After several classes of teaching cerebral blood flow and things like the Valsalva manoeuvre, it struck me that we boys were first lowering cerebral blood flow by hyperventilation-induced hypocapnia (Pagani et al. 2011) and then we reduced cardiac output by increasing thoracic pressure. The resulting cerebral hypoxia is quite a nice sensation, although at the cost of many neurons. Finally, some teacher forbad this nonsense after we almost dropped unconscious.

Author: Prof. Dr. Michael Fähling, Charité-Universitaetsmedizin Berlin, Institute of Vegetative Physiology

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May Issue 2012, 205, 6-8

The juxtaglomerular apparatus

In 1898, Tigerstedt and Bergman published the discovery of renin in Acta Physiologica (Tigersted & Bergman 1898). Already 9 years earlier, Golgi (1889) had described the anatomy of the nephron and that the nephron’s distal tubule returns to its own glomerulus. This is an invariable and preserved property in all mammals and many other different animal species. This intimate coupling between the macula densa cells and the smooth muscle – and granular cells of the afferent arteriole led early investigators (Goormaghtigh 1940) to suggest the existence of a coupling between the composition of fluid at the macula densa site and the function of the glomerular arterioles (Goormaghtigh 1940). This anatomical feature has further intrigued investigators like Thurau and Guyton to formulate more detailed theories about the importance of this mechanism for renal autoregulation, fluid excretion and release of renin (Guyton et al. 1964, Thurau 1964). It was difficult to prove the existence of a mechanism owing to the inaccessibility of these structures for direct micropuncture. However, studies by Schnermann and co-workers clearly demonstrated the existence of a tubuloglomerular feedback mechanism via changes of single nephron GFR and stop flow pressure at alterations of the fluid load to the macula densa area (Schnermann et al. 1970, 1973).

Author: Prof. Dr. Andreas Patzak, Charité-Universitaetsmedizin Berlin, Institute of Vegetative Physiology

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April Issue, 2012, 204, 466-468

ExActa: Let ‘em grow: The Yin and Yang of vessel growth

What do mammalian embryos and malignant neoplasms have in common with the giant man-eating plant of the nerdish florist in Howard Ashman’s ‘Little Shop of Horrors’? A craving for blood. But how is this slaked? The giant blood-thirsty plant sings ‘ Feed me, feed me!’. In contrast to fantasy flora, tumors rely on vascular growth, as does the developing mammalian organism, whose vascular organ system is the first to develop during ontogenesis. It is here that several articles published in Acta Physiologica (Oxford) have advanced our knowledge.

Author: Dr. Anja Bondke Persson, Charité-Universitaetsmedizin Berlin, Institute of Vegetative Physiology

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March Issue 2012, 204, 291-293

ExActa: Getting a kick out of thermoregulation

Leave it to our fellow Canadian physiologist William Cupples. He can even get high on thermoregulation! In the quest for reaching ever higher levels of consciousness, Cupples, a student of the sixties and seventies, undertook all kinds of manoeuvres (W. Cupples 2011, personal communication). How to reach the ultimate near-Nirvana trance? An experience no legal or less legal substance on earth can trigger? No problem, simply immerge in 10°C cold water for an hour, then inhale 55°C warm air for reheating. It is so good, everyone seems your friend and the sole purpose of the world is to please you. Hhmmm, that reheating-sensation might almost be worth getting shipwrecked for. Needless to mention that one of the first seminal articles authored by Cupples was on theEffect of cold water immersion and its combination with alcohol intoxication on urine flow rate of man (Cupples et al. 1980). I bet Cupples volunteered for that protocol.

Author: Dr. Anja Bondke Persson, Charité-Universitaetsmedizin Berlin, Institute of Vegetative Physiology

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February Issue 2012, 204, 145-147

ExActa: A man is not a rat is not a mouse

To the narrow minded, the most interesting functions of small rodents are the mechanisms by which they resist our efforts to eradicate them. In a broader perspective, rodent models are of immense importance for scientific progress in most biomedical areas. The advent in recent decades of categorical conclusions from countless experiments in genetically modified organisms has served only to underscore the importance of these models. However, the increasing prevalence of investigations in small animals, mice in particular, has also centered much attention on the process of extrapolating results from animal to man, i.e., the translational aspects of physiological studies.

Author: Prof. Dr. Peter Bie, University of Southern Denmark, Department of Cardiovascular and Renal Research

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January Issue 2012, 204, 3-5

ExActa: Purinergic Signalling

The Chief Editor of Acta Physiologica earned his degree at the “I. Physiologisches Institut” in Heidelberg. He is right now writing these lines in Hessische Str. 3-4 in Berlin. Who cares? And what does this have to do with purines in physiology, a topic so hot that our journal dedicated a whole issue to it (Fredholm and Verkhratsky 2010)? Little did I know at the time in Heidelberg that the enormous desk I was sitting at had once been the desk of Albrecht Karl Martin Leonhard Kossel (Had I known, our laboratory dogs would probably not have been allowed to relieve their bowels there as often). Kossel discovered the nitrogenous compounds purine and pyrimidine in the resolvent of the nucleic acid. He separated two different purines: adenine and guanine and three different pyrimidines: thymine (separated firstly), cytosine and uracil (Anon 2007). For this Kossel was awarded the Nobel Prize in 1910.

Author: Prof. Dr. Pontus B. Persson, Charité-Universitaetsmedizin Berlin, Institute of Vegetative Physiology

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