The success of a scientific paper

In scientific circles, it’s publish or perish, and as a group, CERG publishes quite a lot.
(Yep, we’re proud of it!) All the more reason to be pleased when you get this sort of email from a journal:

“The Editors of Circulation Research wish to congratulate you and your co-authors for having published one of the most downloaded recent articles in our journal. During September 2011, the PDF of your Online First article, ‘Intrinsic Aerobic Capacity Sets a Divide for Aging and Longevity,’ was downloaded and viewed over 185 times, placing it in the top tier for the month.”

It’s not just the fact that it’s nice to have so many views before your article officially is published – it will be out on October 28th – it’s really nice to see that your work is is being read. After all, so much work goes into every paper.

But it doesn’t stop there… Like most of our recently published work, we put an article summary on our website. And lo and behold, it also shows up on AlphaGalileo, at the European Fitness Association, and in a press release from the University of Michigan, our partners in this study. Not to imply that the paper doesn’t deserve the attention it’s been getting of course – it definitely does.

For the non-researchers out there, it might even seem like science-fiction. We used artificial selective breeding to produce two different kinds of rats; by mating the high-exercise capacity rats with each other, and low-exercise capacity rats with each other we got rats with innate high or low exercise capacities. In contrast to many other rat models, there was no inbreeding, in fact, we wanted varied genetic backgrounds to model a real population more closely.

Once we had our “super” rats and “prefer-to-sit-home-on-the-couch” rats, we then looked to see if there was a connection between the innate exercise ability and the rats’ health and lifespan. And there was! We followed them over several generations, and the “couch” rats had worse cardiovascular health and died sooner. Meanwhile, the happy little “super” rats stayed leaner, lived longer, had better physical activity levels and better heart health. Wow.

Accordingly, the conclusion was pretty clear. There’s a connection between the innate exercise capacity and expected lifespan, quite possibly through cardiac health. And you can bet this is of interests to humans too! Cardiovascular health has been shown to predict longevity, and if you’re genetically predisposed to a worse exercise capacity, there’s all the more reason to get out there and exercise if you want to live a longer and healthier life.

(If you want all the scientific nitty gritty, read it for yourself on PubMed.)

Written by Hanna Sofie Ellingsen at CERG.