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Steve Britton

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Primary Appointment: Anesthesiology Department
Primary PIBS Dept.: Molecular and Integrative Physiology
PubMed Name: britton sl
Department Website

  Based upon the strong statistical association between aerobic capacity and all-cause morbidity and mortality, we hypothesized that artificial selection of rats for low and high aerobic exercise capacity would yield models that also contrast for disease risks. If true, this would support the notion that impaired oxygen metabolism is a common feature that mechanistically underlies disease risks (1). Twenty generations of bi-directional selection produced lines of low capacity runners (LCR) and high capacity runners (HCR) that differ by over 5-fold in aerobic treadmill running capacity. The LCR score high on numerous risks including the metabolic syndrome and the HCR score high for health factors such as maximal oxygen consumption (2). Relative to the HCR, the LCR also:

1. gain more weight and become more insulin-resistant on a high fat diet.
2. are more sensitive to ischemia-induced ventricular tachycardia.
3. display generalized anxiety disorder and depression.
4. have diminished vascular endothelial function.
5. are more susceptible to tobacco smoke (lung cellular infiltration).
6. display disrupted sleep with more transitions and shorter bouts of Non-REM sleep.
7. die about six months sooner (diminished longevity).

These and other features are studied with collaborators from 25 institutions representing 10 countries. Information obtained from these models will immediately suggest pathways for translational studies for more effective modes of diagnosis, prevention, and treatment of complex diseases.

1) Koch LG, Britton SL: Aerobic metabolism underlies complexity and capacity.
Journal of Physiology 2008; 586(1):83-95.

2) Wisloff U, Najjar SM, Ellingsen O, Haram PM, Swoap S, Al-Share Q, Fernstr÷m M, Rezaei K, Lee
SJ, Koch LG, Britton SL: Cardiovascular risk factors emerge from artificial selection for low
aerobic capacity.
Science 2005; 307:418-420.