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Nature. 2005 Mar 3;434(7029):37-8.

Physiology: postprandial cardiac hypertrophy in pythons.

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Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, University of California, Irvine, California 92697, USA.


Oxygen consumption by carnivorous reptiles increases enormously after they have eaten a large meal in order to meet metabolic demands, and this places an extra load on the cardiovascular system. Here we show that there is an extraordinarily rapid 40% increase in ventricular muscle mass in Burmese pythons (Python molurus) a mere 48 hours after feeding, which results from increased gene expression of muscle-contractile proteins. As this fully reversible hypertrophy occurs naturally, it could provide a useful model for investigating the mechanisms that lead to cardiac growth in other animals.

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