Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

At high altitude, carbs are the fuel of choice

Date:
December 6, 2012
Source:
Cell Press
Summary:
Mice living in the high-altitude, oxygen-starved environment of the Andean mountains survive those harsh conditions by fueling their muscles with carbohydrates. The findings provide the first compelling evidence of a clear difference in energy metabolism between high- and low-altitude native mammals.

Shown is an image of fatty liver tissue. The lipid has been stained red, and the liver cell nuclei are stained blue.
Credit: Image courtesy of The Sul Lab

Mice living in the high-altitude, oxygen-starved environment of the Andean mountains survive those harsh conditions by fueling their muscles with carbohydrates. The findings, reported online on December 6 in Current Biology, a Cell Press publication, provide the first compelling evidence of a clear difference in energy metabolism between high- and low-altitude native mammals.

"The high-altitude mice we examined in this study are a rare exception to a general exercise fuel use pattern seen in lowland mammals," said Marie-Pierre Schippers of McMaster University. "Studying exceptions to a rule is often the key to uncovering the mechanisms of a physiological process."

The new study conducted with collaborators from the Universidad Peruana Cayetano Heredia in Peru could therefore lead to increased understanding not only of mountain-dwelling mice but also of other mammals, including humans, said Grant McClelland, also of McMaster University.

At an altitude of roughly 4,000 meters, every breath of air contains about 40 percent less oxygen than it would at sea level. Under those conditions, carbohydrates are the logical energy source. That's because carbs can supply 15 percent more energy for the same amount of oxygen in comparison to fats.

In fact, the idea that high-altitude environments should favor carbohydrate metabolism was proposed almost 30 years ago, but it hadn't really been put to the test. In the new study, the researchers used a powerful multispecies approach, using four native species of mice, two from the Peruvian Andes and two found at sea level.

The researchers found that the high-altitude mice do indeed burn more carbohydrates. Their heart muscles show greater oxidative capacity, too, both adaptations that would afford the animals the ability to remain active at altitude more successfully than their lowland relatives could.

Those differences aren't a matter of adjusting to high versus low altitude but are rather due to inherent differences in the mice that have apparently arisen more than once over the course of evolutionary time.

"This is one of 'nature's solutions' to low atmospheric oxygen," McClelland said. "Our study shows that Andean mouse species have independently evolved a metabolic strategy that maximizes energy yield when little oxygen is available. It is possible that a similar strategy has also evolved in other high-altitude mammals, including humans."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Cell Press. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Marie-Pierre Schippers, Oswaldo Ramirez, Margarita Arana, Percy Pinedo-Bernal, GrantB. McClelland. Increase in Carbohydrate Utilization in High-Altitude Andean Mice. Current Biology, 2012; DOI: 10.1016/j.cub.2012.10.043

Cite This Page:

Cell Press. "At high altitude, carbs are the fuel of choice." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 6 December 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/12/121206121942.htm>.
Cell Press. (2012, December 6). At high altitude, carbs are the fuel of choice. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 21, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/12/121206121942.htm
Cell Press. "At high altitude, carbs are the fuel of choice." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/12/121206121942.htm (accessed September 21, 2014).

Share This



More Plants & Animals News

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Raw: San Diego Zoo Welcomes Cheetah Cubs

Raw: San Diego Zoo Welcomes Cheetah Cubs

AP (Sep. 20, 2014) The San Diego Zoo has welcomed two Cheetah cubs to its Safari Park. The nearly three-week-old female cubs are being hand fed and are receiving around the clock care. (Sept. 20) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Chocolate Museum Opens in Brussels

Chocolate Museum Opens in Brussels

AFP (Sep. 19, 2014) Considered a "national heritage" in Belgium, chocolate now has a new museum in Brussels. In a former chocolate factory, visitors to the permanent exhibition spaces, workshops and tastings can discover derivatives of the cocoa bean. Duration: 01:00 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Could Grief Affect The Immune Systems Of Senior Citizens?

Could Grief Affect The Immune Systems Of Senior Citizens?

Newsy (Sep. 19, 2014) The study found elderly people are much more likely to become susceptible to infection than younger adults going though a similar situation. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Jury Delivers Verdict in Salmonella Trial

Jury Delivers Verdict in Salmonella Trial

AP (Sep. 19, 2014) A federal jury has convicted three people in connection with an outbreak of salmonella poisoning five years ago that sickened hundreds of people and was linked to a number of deaths. (Sept. 19) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins