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Cavefish Blood Sugar

March 27, 2018

Blind cavefish have a genetic mutation that gives them high blood sugar, yet they suffer no ill effects.



Insulin resistant fish. I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

Blind cavefish have a genetic mutation that causes high blood sugar. In humans, the same mutation is associated with a lethal form of diabetes. But instead of getting sick, the fish actually benefit from the genetic anomaly, according to a study in the journal Nature. Harvard Medical School biologist Misty Riddle says blind cavefish are just as healthy as their river-dwelling relatives, which lack the mutation.

MISTY RIDDLE (Harvard Medical School):

They actually live just as long as the fish that live in the river, which is at least  around 14 years even though they have dysregulated blood sugar levels.


Riddle says food is scarce in the caves where the fish live. But the mutation may allow them to gorge themselves during spring floods, surviving for months on accumulated fat stores. The work could lead to insights into treating diabetes in humans. I’m Bob Hirshon, for AAAS, the science society.

Story by Susanne Bard