From cave fish to humans: Evolution of metabolism in cave fish may provide insight into treatments for a range of diseases such as diabetes, heart disease and stroke – Benzinga

Kansas City, MissouriAnd 12 May 2022 /PRNewswire/ — New research from the Stowers Institute of Medical Research examines how cavefish, the surface-dwelling river fish that have submerged in underground cave systems more than 100,000 years ago, evolved unique metabolic adaptations to survive in nutrient-scarce environments. The study, published online in nature genetics employment 12 May 2022led Jaya KrishnanPh.D., Senior Research Associate in Laboratory Nicholas RohnerA genome-wide map of liver tissue from two independent colonies of cave fish along with river fish to understand how cavefish metabolism evolved and how this may be applied to humans.

The fish highlighted metabolic disorders, because despite the high levels of fat and glucose in the blood, they remain healthy.

Historically, humans were able to adapt during periods of feast or famine. Today, however, Eid has replaced famine in many areas around the world resulting in a rise in a range of metabolic-related diseases such as diabetes, heart disease and stroke. Collectively called metabolic syndrome, these conditions are linked to genetic mutations in regions of our DNA that regulate how our genes work to keep us healthy; On an evolutionary time scale, the persistent “festival state” is in its infancy, which for humans means disease rather than adaptation.

This study represents the first time that genetic mapping of non-coding regions of liver DNA that function to regulate gene activity and expression has been performed. The new data is now a valuable resource for the scientific community studying hunger resistance and metabolism.

“It’s a very good basis for us or anyone to now ask relevant questions regarding metabolism, diet and adaptation,” Krishnan said.

Metabolism, or the way we use and store energy, is an integral part of health in all species. Cave fish are ideal for studying metabolism. During periodic flooding of the caves, these fish consume and store all the nutrients they need to survive until the next nutrient inundation, which may not be for another year. “They can highlight metabolic disorders like diabetes and obesity,” Krishnan said, because despite high levels of fat and glucose in the blood, these fish remain vibrant and healthy.

“The fact that these fish seem healthy, despite having these extreme traits, is, by definition, a good place to question how they handle that,” Rohner said.

What is really remarkable is that the two independently derived colonies of cave fish examined in this study developed strikingly similar metabolic adaptations to survive in dark and nutrient-poor environments. This raises the question, what can we learn from animals that have had time to evolve? And even further, if multiple Groups of cave fish have evolved in a very similar way completely independently of each other, so are there universal adaptive mechanisms that can operate in other species such as humans?

“We only know of a handful of genes that could be therapeutic targets,” Krishnan said. “This means that we need to adopt new methods to identify such potential genes so that we can investigate them, and cave fish are a very powerful system for us to do that.”

Co-authors include Christopher W SeidelPhD Ning ChangPhD Narendra Pratap SinghPhD Jake VanCampeneAnd Robert Bioß, Ph.D., Shaolei Xiong, Alexander KanziorHua Li, Ph.D., and Joanne W. ConwayPh.D.

Funding for the study was provided by the JDRF, the Edward Mallinckrodt Foundation, the National Institutes of Health (award R01GM127872), the National Science Foundation (award IOS-1933428), Enabling Discovery through the National Science Foundation’s GEnomics (award 1923372), Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (award PE2807/1) -1) With institutional support from the Stowers Institute for Medical Research. The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Institutes of Health.

About the Stowers Institute for Medical Research

Founded in 1994 thanks to the generosity of Jim StoresStowers Institute for Medical Research, Inc., founder of American Century Investments, and his wife, Virginia, are a nonprofit biomedical research organization with a focus on foundational research. Its mission is to expand our understanding of life’s mysteries and improve quality of life through innovative approaches to the causes, treatment, and prevention of disease.

The institute consists of 17 independent research programmes. Of the approximately 500 members, more than 370 scientific staff include principal investigators, technology center managers, postdoctoral scientists, graduate students, and technical support staff. Learn more about the institute at and about the graduate program at

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SOURCE Stowers Institute for Medical Research

2022-05-12 15:00:00

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