Medical Solutions for the 21st Century . . .
Meeting Tomorrow's Challenges Today

[Back to Newsletters]    
[Go to Main Page]


E-Newsletter No. 4

A specific gene has been found that limits the size of skeletal muscles. This size effect appears to be exclusively from skeletal muscle. All other cells are unaffected. The gene produces a protein called myostatin. This protein is secreted in the part of the embryo that controls skeletal muscle. It is also found in the muscles of adult mammals. These act like hormones as there are specific receptors for them on the cell wall outer membranes.

Click here to learn more about myostatin

Over the past 30 years, the farmers in Belgium have bred a strain of cattle - The mighty Belgium Blue - that gives 20% more meat per animal on roughly the same food intake as ordinary animals. Indeed, the cattle develop such bulging muscles that in extreme cases, they have to be delivered by cesarean section. This "double muscling trait" had been reported as early as 1807.

Genetic Mutation
In the September issue of Nature Genetics, a European research team reports that double muscling is caused by a mutation in the bovine version of the recently discovered gene that makes the protein called myostatin. In the U.S., two other groups, one from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and the other from John Hopkins University, reported in September issue of Genome Research and in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, that the myostatin gene is mutated in Belgium Blues and have linked mutations in the gene to double muscling in a second breed of cattle, the Piedmontese, as well.

How does Myostatin work?
Discovered in mice just four months ago, myostatin normally serves to limit skeletal muscle growth. Apparently, the genetic mutations block its activity in limiting muscle growth. The animals muscles grow larger-but without harming meat quality. The muscles of animals with the myostatin genetic mutations have been discovered to have larger numbers of normal-size fibers. Nevertheless, the meat of the cattle is "so tender, even round steaks fall apart on the grill". It is also lower in fat than that from ordinary breeds.

Lee-Benner Institute Research
Here at the Lee-Benner Institute, we have been working with a group of protein chemists who are developing peptide analogues (short chains of amino acids). These analogues, combined with vitamin co-factors, function as enzyme inhibitors that interfere with the growth limiting action of the myostatin protein. These analogues might be useful in treating muscle-wasting diseases. In mice, the effects of inactivating the gene has increased muscle-cell number by 86%. Most of the muscle growth in adult humans, for example, whether from weight-training or steroids, is caused by hypertrophy (increasing the size of the muscle cell), not hyperplasia (increasing the number of muscle cells).

Peptide Analogues and the brain
Another aspect of these peptide analogues is that they seem to impart many of their actions in the brain. When they are injected into frail, elderly adult humans, there appears to be an increase in drive, energy, motivation, and overall improvement in complex mental functions such as memory, concentration, comprehension, calculation. Even balance and coordination are improved. We are currently studying the effects on strength and stamina in humans. Keep watching this newsletter for future updates on these and other exciting developments in Anti-Aging research.

Also see:

Sarcopenia -- The Role of Mitochondrial DNA (mt DNA) Deletion Mutation

Myoplex® Effectiveness For Sarcopenia of Aging

Muscle Builder Myoplex®Induces Il-4

Definition of Myostatin

[Back to Newsletters]    

[Go to Main Page]