Do the Deu...terium
Day 119, 71-48
It's another cloudy and rainy day here in Paradise. There was a little color on the horizon at sunrise, but this was as good as it got. Fortunately, there are cute animals to photograph when the sun doesn't cooperate.
So, now that we know what deuterium is, what the heck does it actually do? Deuterium serves as a signal in regulation of metabolism and growth, primarily stimulatory. We want this signal active while in utero and in early years of development. However, if that signal is activated in adulthood (or over-ctivated in childhood) it leads to excess weight gain. The other issue with deuterium is that it is "sticky". Deuterium forms stronger bonds compared to protium. For example, when a cholesterol molecule contains deuterium, it can't be broken down into pregnenolone to be converted into steroid hormones or to vitamin D. The result is an elevated cholesterol level, which then by the current model becomes atherosclerotic plaques leading to inflammation and heart disease. The same goes for water molecules and glucose attempting to be used in glycolysis and the Krebs Cycle. They can't be used as effectively, at best slowing those processes and at worse actually gumming up the works, so to speak, within the mitochondria. If a deuterium actually is freed and shunted into metabolism, it is literally too big to fit in to the ATPase enzymes completing the final step of ATP synthesis. Imagine two gears, one turning the other and then throwing a stone right into the teeth.
There are all sorts of checks and balances in plants and animals to reduce and sequester deuterium. Plants tend to shunt it into seeds and fruits. Similarly, humans concentrate it into germ cells, eggs and sperm. This potentially becomes a problem going back to stimulating fetal and early childhood growth. Sperm are regularly regenerated (stop snickering in the back row), so they don't over-accumulate deuterium. But women are born with their lifetime supply of eggs and have years to add deuterium to them before they are put to use making a new baby. Potentially, a baby is born with an overdose of deuterium, keeping that growth signal jammed in the "on" position early and often, leading to childhood obesity. That is the most visible issue, but deuterium can act as a promoter and suppressor of multiple genes. Research is ongoing, so we may be just at the beginning of seeing the effects of excess deuterium.
I think that's enough for now, somebody in the back row just fell over. Tune in tomorrow for the next episode of "As the Deuterium Spins", and we'll talk a little more about the distribution of deuterium and how we might tweak it.