Nicole Danos, Ph.D.
Department of Biology
University of San Diego
Although live bearing is a defining feature of all eutherian mammals we know surprisingly little about the effects of pregnancy on skeletal muscle. We used the gastrocnemius muscle of rats as a model system to examine the organ and whole animal level effects of pregnancy, by comparing animals that had never been pregnant, primiparous animals, and postpartum animals. We predict that the effects of certain hormones, especially relaxin, would lead to increased muscle vascularization, new muscle cell formation and reduction in the stiffness of connective tissues such as tendons and aponeuroses. We examine the effects of these morphological changes on whole organism locomotion and in situ muscle performance.
Dr. Nicole Danos is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Biology at the University of San Diego. She is a broadly trained Vertebrate Comparative Anatomist who uses both model and non-model organisms to study the relationship between form and function. Her studies focus on the anatomy and mechanical properties of soft tissues, including muscle, and how these might contribute to critical organismal functions such as walking and eating. Current projects include the Biomechanics of Breastfeeding, the Effects of Pregnancy on Muscle Function, and Sexual Dimorphism in Feeding Chameleons.
Host: Greg Sawicki, Ph.D.