UNT Research, Volume 16, 2006 Page: 43
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Edward Dzialowski y p
certain drugs affect
heart to bypass the developing chick's not-
You might have noticed the air cell
that develops in eggs that have been left in
the fridge a little past their prime. That
cell is filled with a hypoxic gas used by the
developing embryo until it breaks forth
from its shell. The developing respiratory 4
and cardiovascular systems of certain avian
as chickens are roughly comparable
to those of humans; both have ductus
But the human process of taking that
first breath comes pretty much all at once.
A baby is born and instinctively fills its
lungs with that first gasp of air; its blood- .
oxygen levels rise. Developing chickens give
scientists a nicer window of time in which
to study the process.
"In mammals, the ductus closes over
the first few hours after birth because the
neonate no longer has access to the fetal gas
exchanger hut receives all of its necessary
oxygen via the lungs' Dzialowski explains.
1 interested in how environmental factors influence an animal during
velopment and how its physiology and morphology might change to allow it to
vith these challenges."
"Hatching in the chicken is a much slower
process. The embryo goes through a stage
known as internal pipping when it gets
oxygen from both the embryonic gas
exchanger and the lungs. This period can
last from 8 to 24 hours, depending on
the species. Over this period, the ductus
closes much more slowly in the bird than
the mammal, allowing us to tease apart
the physiological, cellular and genetic
processes governing closure."
What does all the opening and closing
say about developing human organisms?
Dzialowski says he hopes the work will
allow his lab team to piece together the
effect of any number of environmental fac-
tors surrounding hypoxia - characterized
by a lack of oxygen - on the developing
Smoking and indomethacin use are
two examples. Smoking is thought to cause
congenital heart defects in infants - it
does so by interfering with the development
of the ductus. Indomethacin, sometimes
prescribed to pregnant mothers prone to
pre-term labor, has been shown to affect
closure of the ductus in the developing
"I am interested in how environmental
factors influence an animal during develop-
ment and how its physiology and morphol-
ogy might change to allow it to deal with
these challenges," Dzialowski says. "At the
UNT RESEARCH 2006 H 43
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University of North Texas. UNT Research, Volume 16, 2006, periodical, 2006; Denton, Texas. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc29777/m1/43/: accessed February 27, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting University Relations, Communications & Marketing department for UNT.