Genetics are very important in human beings. It dictates height, hair color, intelligence, strength, speed, and a host of other physical features. Muscle genetics are very important in the future of our survival as well. It also is very important in understanding what types of diseases people will be prone to getting. This will help in the eradication of disease in the future. Genetics are so strong and adaptive for the survival of humans that they have altered over time in different locales of the earth. For instance, if you have sickle cell A, you will most likely die within your first year of life. If you have sickle cell B, you will live longer. Some people think sickle cell B is a genetic mutation caused by malaria. It isn’t, but it does offer resistance against malaria. As such, the gene persists to this day. Usually weak genes are bred out over time. For instance, you won’t find white mice on a black sand island. Why? Because they stick out like sore thumbs and predators kill them, thus eradicating white mice genes so all that is left are black mice breeding with black mice. If a heterozygous white mouse were born, it would be killed immediately.
So What About This Muscle Thing?
So genetically, muscle may not be the most advantageous thing to have a lot of for long term survival. There are a host of things that stand in the way of too much muscle growth. People think they can just take a compound like growth hormone(GH) and make their muscles bigger. The problem is that GH has a global effect, and can’t just specifically bind skeletal muscle. Not to mention, there is a hormone called myostatin that interferes with muscle growth as well. The body is made to survive and it has all kinds of feedback inhibition that slows or even stops the body and it ability to gain copious amounts of muscle. Muscle has a very high metabolic cost and therefore the body tries to strip it off when you get too big. It makes the heart work harder to feed all that muscle, and the harder the heart works, the faster it wears out. With all these feedback loops in the way of your progress, what can one do? First we need to understand what has to happen to maximize your physique
What Genes Do What?
The most popular gene studies is ACTN3 or apha-actin-3. ACTN3 is expressed in predominantly Type IIB muscle fibers. ACTN2 is expressed in all other fibers. ACTN3 dominant people are much more explosive than ACTN2 people. There are also ACE gene (angiotensin converting enzynme). This mechanism controls blood pressure, I am sure everyone has heard of ACE inhibitors. It is also implicated in athletic performance. ACE D is associated with speed and power. ACE 1 is associated with endurance. The VNTR IL-1RN gene codes for cytokines, involved in the inflammatory response and tissue repair post exercise. The interleukin-15 protein is associated with muscular hypertrophy. Then you have the myostatin gene which is widely known as the governor for muscle growth. With this multi-factorial genetic control, one can see how complex muscle growth and athletic performance truly are.
What Can We Do?
There is currently a lot of research being done on mysostatin inhibition. They are trying to learn how to knock the gene out or even just slow down the expression. There are always implications to doing things of this nature. What will the interplay be from doing so. Will rampant organ growth be an unintended consequence? As it stands, until the human proteome is figured out, there will be many unanswered questions. There are also many moral implications when in regard to sports. Who will be the first to uncover the secrets to altering ability at the genetic level? While the idea of foxing some of these awful genetic diseases, the idea of Frankenstein athletes running around is just too much for the mind to bear at this point. Maximizing your genetic potential is one thing, altering it to win trophies is a Pandora’s Box that we should hope never gets opened. In the meantime, Mind and Muscle has Myo coming out soon, a myostatin inhibitor that shows a great deal of promise in research. Read more here.