Research Topic

Physiology in extreme conditions: Adaptations and unexpected reactions.

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Healthcare costs have amazingly increased in response to the fight against diseases and comorbidities, but it remains unclear in many cases what a normal condition is (looking at an individual level rather than at the general population) or what really means a disease-free human body (considering or not ...

Healthcare costs have amazingly increased in response to the fight against diseases and comorbidities, but it remains unclear in many cases what a normal condition is (looking at an individual level rather than at the general population) or what really means a disease-free human body (considering or not therapy effects). Without better discrimination, we might run into the risk of continuing with treatment of symptoms rather than caring primarily for the discovery of pathological roots, thus moving against prevention.

Physiology in extreme conditions can reveal important reactions of the human body, which help our assessment of limits emerging under healthy conditions and critical signals of transition toward disease. While many mechanisms could simply be associated with adaptations, others refer to unexpected reactions in response to internal stimuli and/or external abrupt changes. Central to the goals of this Research Topic is the illustration of types of disturbances and/or extreme physiological conditions that we indicate as critical aspects calling for more attention.

In order to gain further knowledge about specific individual reactions as well as mechanisms of homeostasis (both maintenance and recovery after shocks), contributions are welcomed on a wide range of topics whose impacts have still to be fully assessed. In parallel, some pathological conditions need also to be stressed so as to establish a framework including also extreme disease conditions. The two scenarios will thus include a variety of organs and apparatus in order to diversify the research topics within the scopes of Systems Medicine.

Topics of interest range from the internal abrupt change in the cardiovascular system due to the total heart implantation and the ventricular unloading by active implantable ventricular devices, to the abolishing of consciousness in anaesthesia, the chemical effects of alcohol and drugs, and others through which we would like to assess the consequences of external extreme conditions like space, underwater environment, altitude, to mention a few. We assign a primary role to the investigation of cognitive and psychological characteristics in the extreme sports, including for instance the peculiarity of “iron men” as well as the physiological and non-physiological sleep patterns, say sleep deprivation and circadian rhythms, and besides the breakdown in sudden events and catastrophes.

Stress factors can be analysed in preclinical models and within the human life. A recognized common pathway is represented by inflammation, with its multiple effects in terms of the morbidities that can be associated. Inflammation can be evaluated in both protective terms and their negative role by itself, or also considering anti-inflammatory drugs whose effects are exerted on different organs in relation to different diseases. Relevance is also assigned to the complex relations between human beings and microbiota characteristics, which shape the interesting area of specific disease induction. The enormous amount of data derived from these contexts, and the need to model them in an integrative fashion, indicate the urgency of exploiting Systems Medicine approaches elucidating stratifications into clusters or communities of different subjects in the spirit of an increasingly personalized interpretation of health and disease. Together with clarifying limits for both, the inferential approaches that we invite to describe would need to optimize the chances of recovering homeostasis in response to many and possibly anomalous conditions occurring during our life time.


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