ANCHOR LEAD: LITTLE CELLULAR APPENDAGES CALLED CILIA HAVE A BIG ROLE, ELIZABETH TRACEY REPORTS
Just like single-celled organisms that swim in pond water, most of your body’s cells have a cilium, a single whip-like appendage extending from the cell surface. For single cell organisms they allow locomotion, but what do they do on the body’s cells? Nicolas Katsanis, a cilium expert at Johns Hopkins, says defects in cilia have wide-ranging consequences.
KATSANIS: The most common manifestation in later life, it will probably have to do with dysregulation of body weight, in terms of adiposity and obesity, it will probably be associated with type 2 diabetes, it will be associated with enlargement of the kidneys, polycystic kidney disease, and we suspect that it will also be implicated in a number of behavioral and cognitive disorders as well as psychiatric disorders. :25
Katsanis says knowing more about cilia defects will help people get correct diagnoses and may point the way to new interventions. I’m Elizabeth Tracey reporting.