Category Archives: metabolism

History of complexity science

Here’s an interesting infographic of the main concepts and thinkers in complexity science across time. Notice S. Kauffman is slated in the 1980s column, suggesting the graphic depicts when influential thinkers first make their marks.

Test determines approximate year of death

Age-at-death forecasting – A new test predicts when a person will die. It’s currently accurate within a few years and is getting more accurate. What psychological impacts might knowing your approximate (± 6 months) death time mean for otherwise healthy people? Does existing research with terminally ill or very old persons shed light on this? What would the social and political implications be? What if a ‘death-clock’ reading became required for certain jobs (elected positions, astronauts, roles requiring expensive training and education, etc.) or decisions (whom to marry or parent children with, whether to adopt, whether to relocate, how to invest and manage one’s finances, etc.)?

On the evolution of the mammalian brain

Torday and Miller, Frontiers in Systems Neuroscience, 19 April 2016. The abstract:

“Hobson and Friston have hypothesized that the brain must actively dissipate heat in order to process information (Hobson et al., 2014). This physiologic trait is functionally homologous with the first instantation of life formed by lipids suspended in water forming micelles- allowing the reduction in entropy (heat dissipation). This circumvents the Second Law of Thermodynamics permitting the transfer of information between living entities, enabling them to perpetually glean information from the environment, that is felt by many to correspond to evolution per se. The next evolutionary milestone was the advent of cholesterol, embedded in the cell membranes of primordial eukaryotes, facilitating metabolism, oxygenation and locomotion, the triadic basis for vertebrate evolution. Lipids were key to homeostatic regulation of calcium, forming calcium channels. Cell membrane cholesterol also fostered metazoan evolution by forming lipid rafts for receptor-mediated cell-cell signaling, the origin of the endocrine system. The eukaryotic cell membrane exapted to all complex physiologic traits, including the lung and brain, which are molecularly homologous through the function of neuregulin, mediating both lung development and myelinization of neurons. That cooption later exapted as endothermy during the water-land transition (Torday, 2015a), perhaps being the functional homolog for brain heat dissipation and conscious/mindful information processing. The skin and brain similarly share molecular homologies through the “skin-brain” hypothesis, giving insight to the cellular-molecular “arc” of consciousness from its unicellular origins to integrated physiology. This perspective on the evolution of the central nervous system clarifies self-organization, reconciling thermodynamic and informational definitions of the underlying biophysical mechanisms, thereby elucidating relations between the predictive capabilities of the brain and self-organizational processes.”

Sex differences in the gut-microbiome-brain axis


In recent years, the bidirectional communication between the gut microbiome and the brain has emerged as a factor that influences immunity, metabolism, neurodevelopment and behaviour. Cross-talk between the gut and brain begins early in life immediately following the transition from a sterile in utero environment to one that is exposed to a changing and complex microbial milieu over a lifetime. Once established, communication between the gut and brain integrates information from the autonomic and enteric nervous systems, neuroendocrine and neuroimmune signals, and peripheral immune and metabolic signals. Importantly, the composition and functional potential of the gut microbiome undergoes many transitions that parallel dynamic periods of brain development and maturation for which distinct sex differences have been identified. Here, we discuss the sexually dimorphic development, maturation and maintenance of the gut microbiome–brain axis, and the sex differences therein important in disease risk and resilience throughout the lifespan.

Promising metabolic therapy for dementias

An article describes a personalized therapeutic program involving 10 patients and using multiple modalities for metabolic enhancement for neurodegeneration (MEND).

The first 10 patients who have utilized this program include patients with memory loss associated with Alzheimer’s disease (AD), amnestic mild cognitive impairment (aMCI), or subjective cognitive impairment (SCI). Nine of the 10 displayed subjective or objective improvement in cognition beginning within 3-6 months, with the one failure being a patient with very late stage AD. Six of the patients had had to discontinue working or were struggling with their jobs at the time of presentation, and all were able to return to work or continue working with improved performance. Improvements have been sustained, and at this time the longest patient follow-up is two and one-half years from initial treatment, with sustained and marked improvement. These results suggest that a larger, more extensive trial of this therapeutic program is warranted. The results also suggest that, at least early in the course, cognitive decline may be driven in large part by metabolic processes. Furthermore, given the failure of monotherapeutics in AD to date, the results raise the possibility that such a therapeutic system may be useful as a platform on which drugs that would fail as monotherapeutics may succeed as key components of a therapeutic system.