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Wrestling with Weight Loss

The Dangers of a Weight-Loss Drug

Wrestling with Weight Loss

By Susan M. DeSimone, Annie Prud’homme-Genereux


 

Abstract

In this interrupted case study, a young wrestler considers purchasing 2,4-dinitrophenol (DNP) online as a means to drop weight quickly. However, a finding that it may have killed someone concerns him. Through progressive disclosure of information, students expand their understanding of membrane permeability and the proton motive force in mitochondria to understand how DNP acts in mitochondria and how it may lead to various physiological effects. Follow-up assignments use knowledge gained in the case to understand mitochondrial thermogenesis in brown fat function and human evolution. The case may be used as a stand-alone exercise in a classroom or be paired with a laboratory investigation using isolated plant mitochondria. It is suitable for an introductory cell biology course for biology majors and non-majors.

   

Date Posted

1/19/2011

Overview

Objectives

  • Know the order and linkage of the biochemical processes involved in ATP synthesis in mitochondria (glycolysis, TCA cycle, electron transport chain, proton pumping, ATP synthase activity)
  • Be able to describe how mitochondria may generate heat to maintain body temperature.
  • Apply concepts underlying mitochondrial function to the mechanism of action of a specific diet pill.
  • Be able to extract data from a graph, and use that data to make inferences about the action of DNP.
  • Relate fundamental principles of mitochondrial function to their own health.

Keywords

DNP; 2,4–dinitrophenol; mitochondria; mitochondrion; permeability; proton motive force; proton gradient; energy transfer; ATP; uncoupler; substance use

  

Subject Headings

Cell Biology
Molecular Biology
Biology (General)

EDUCATIONAL LEVEL

Undergraduate upper division

  

FORMAT

PDF, PowerPoint

   

TOPICAL AREAS

N/A

   

LANGUAGE

English

   

TYPE/METHODS

Dilemma/Decision, Discussion, Interrupted, Laboratory

 

 

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