What is it?
Myostatin is a member of a superfamily of related compounds known as “transforming growth factors beta.” They are intimately related to tissue growth and differentiation, as well as many other functions. What scientists discovered was by knocking out the gene that codes for myostatin (the famed “myostatin gene”), animals would grow up hugely muscular. One needs only to see pictures of that ridiculously muscular mouse in the ads to know what I mean.
What is it supposed to do?
Scientists have been looking at these growth factors, what regulates them, what genes code for them, etc. since it may have applications to grow live-stock with greater amounts of meat and less fat, or combating wasting syndromes in humans, such as AIDS, cancer, and muscular dystrophy. For example, high levels of myostatin have been associated with muscle wasting in HIV-infected men compared to healthy normal men. However, this simple association does not in anyway prove myostatin directly contributes to muscle wasting, per se. It may simply be an intermediate indicator vs. a direct cause.
Relating to bodybuilders and other athletes, one theory is that the reason some people put on muscle so much easier than others is that they have a genetic propensity for making less myostatin due to a mutation in the gene. Conversely, the reason some people find it almost impossible to add muscle might be that they are genetically set up to have high levels of myostatin and, therefore, their efforts in the gym are being blocked.
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