Vampire bat, shrew, and bear: comparative physiology and chronic renal failure

American Journal of Physiology. Regulatory, Integrative and Comparative Physiology
Michael A Singer

Abstract

In the typical mammal, energy flux, protein metabolism, and renal excretory processes constitute a set of closely linked and quantitatively matched functions. However, this matching has limits, and these limits become apparent when animals adapt to unusual circumstances. The vampire bat and shrew have an extremely high protein intake, and the glomerular filtration rate (GFR) is not commensurate with the large urea load to be excreted. The vampire bat is chronically azotemic (blood urea concentration 27-57 mmol/l); yet there is no information as to how this animal has adjusted to such an azotemic internal environment. A high protein intake should also lead to chronic glomerular hyperfiltration; yet neither animal appears to develop progressive renal failure. The American black bear, on the other hand, has adapted to a prolonged period without intake or urine output. Despite continued amino acid catabolism with urea production, this mammal is able to completely salvage and reutilize urea nitrogen for protein synthesis, although the signals that initiate this metabolic adaptation are not known. The vampire bat, shrew, and bear are natural models adapted to circumstances analogous to chronic renal failure. Unraveling these adaptati...Continue Reading

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