Blocking a muscle growth-limiting hormone protects against obesity and atherosclerosis

June 11, 2009

Knockout of myostatin, a growth factor that limits muscle growth, can decrease body fat and promote resistance against developing atherosclerosis, or "hardening" of the arteries, according to a new study conducted in mice.

"Obesity increases the risk of , which accounts for 75% of all cardiovascular events, such as heart attacks and strokes," said study co-author Shalender Bhasin, MD, professor of medicine at Boston University School of Medicine and chief of the Section of Endocrinology, Diabetes, and Nutrition at Boston Medical Center. "Current strategies aimed at preventing heart disease consist primarily of lowering cholesterol levels, but patients reaching the desired cholesterol levels are still at risk for atherosclerosis if they have other risk factors, such as obesity."

Humans and animals with a mutation in the myostatin gene are extremely muscular and have little fat, past research shows. Also, when the gene encoding myostatin is knocked out in mice, their muscle mass increases.

Bhasin and his co-workers wanted to find out if inhibiting myostatin in mice could resist the development of diet-induced obesity and of atherosclerosis, the buildup of lipid deposits called plaque that can narrow and clog coronary arteries.

The researchers took mice that were genetically altered to develop atherosclerosis and then cross-bred them with myostatin knockout mice. Ten generations later, they had mice who were genetically predisposed to both atherosclerosis and inactivation of myostatin. For controls, they studied mice with a genetic predisposition for atherosclerosis but with intact myostatin gene. All mice received a high-fat diet for 12 weeks, to spur the development of atherosclerosis.

Compared with controls, the mice with deleted myostatin gene had much less body fat and 30 percent lower fasting blood sugar and 80% lower fasting insulin levels, showing a reduction in obesity and a strong resistance to developing diabetes, the authors reported. They also had 50 percent lower low-density-lipoprotein ("bad") cholesterol and 30 to 60 percent lower levels of total cholesterol and triglycerides (fats in the blood), respectively. These results indicate protection against the development of atherosclerosis, according to Bhasin.

More research is needed to demonstrate the safety and effectiveness of myostatin inhibitors in humans, Bhasin said. However, he said that that this therapeutic strategy already is possible. Experimental drugs called myostatin blockers or inhibitors are being studied as potential treatments of muscle wasting disorders and limb injuries.

Some currently available nutritional supplements are touted as myostatin inhibitors, but Bhasin said he doubts they are effective.

Source: The Endocrine Society (news : web)

Related Stories

Recommended for you

Large variety of microbial communities found to live along female reproductive tract

October 18, 2017
(Medical Xpress)—A large team of researchers from China (and one each from Norway and Denmark) has found that the female reproductive tract is host to a far richer microbial community than has been thought. In their paper ...

Study of what makes cells resistant to radiation could improve cancer treatments

October 18, 2017
A Johns Hopkins University biologist is part of a research team that has demonstrated a way to size up a cell's resistance to radiation, a step that could eventually help improve cancer treatments.

New approach helps rodents with spinal cord injury breathe on their own

October 17, 2017
One of the most severe consequences of spinal cord injury in the neck is losing the ability to control the diaphragm and breathe on one's own. Now, investigators show for the first time in laboratory models that two different ...

A new compound targets energy generation, thereby killing metastatic cells

October 17, 2017
Cancer can most often be successfully treated when confined to one organ. But a greater challenge lies in treating cancer that has metastasized, or spread, from the primary tumor throughout the patient's body. Although immunotherapy ...

Pair of discoveries illuminate new paths to flu and anthrax treatments

October 17, 2017
Two recent studies led by biologists at the University of California San Diego have set the research groundwork for new avenues to treat influenza and anthrax poisoning.

New method to measure how drugs interact

October 17, 2017
Cancer, HIV and tuberculosis are among the many serious diseases that are frequently treated with combinations of three or more drugs, over months or even years. Developing the most effective therapies for such diseases requires ...


Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

4 / 5 (1) Jul 06, 2009
OK, here we go. MYO-T12. That's the new myostain product. Anybody else see this over at Looks like someone's finally got a handle on this technology. Obviously, it always pays to be skeptical, but man, if it works this would be huge! Anybody else going to try this when it comes out (they're saying September).
not rated yet Aug 07, 2009
I have seen this product on Prosource website. They had another similar product a year ago and was really bragging it up and then before the release date, it vanished. They didn't have an explanation or anything. Anyways, Myo-T12 is available now for 100 bucks for a 30 day supply. I am pretty sceptical myself. You can sell a rock online and write up a 5 page article on how it will stop arthritis simply by holding it in your hand. I am going to wait and see if there is some positive LEGITIMATE feedback before I start throwing my money at them. It would be sweet if this product was the real deal.

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.