They discover why we are getting taller and puberty is getting earlier.


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Average height in the UK increased up to 10 centimeters during the 20th century, and up to 20 in other countries, as nutritional health improved. But the exact mechanism by which this happened was not known.

The new discovery could lead to the elaboration of substances to improve muscle mass and treatments for stunting, according to a group of British researchers.

The scientists have long known that people with adequate diets and sufficient and stable access to food grow larger and mature faster.

South Korea, for example, has seen the height of its inhabitants skyrocket as the country went from being a backward society to a developed one. There are still places in Africa and South Asia where people are only slightly taller than 100 years ago.

if you know that Food signals reach the hypothalamus, a part of the brain, informing the body about its nutritional health and triggering growth.

A new study published in the journal
Nature
, led by researchers from the
University of Cambridge
, together with teams from the
Queen Mary University London
, the
Bristol University
, the
Michigan University
and the
Vanderbilt University,
sheds light on the brain receptor behind that process.

It has been called MC3R And it is at the crucial nexus between food and sexual development and growth.

The scientists found that when brain receptors do not function normally, people tend to be shorter and have a later onset of puberty.

“It tells the body that we are fine, that we have lots of food, so ‘have puberty soon and make a lot of babies,” explains the teacher. Stephen O’Rahilly, from
Cambridge University
and one of the study authors.

It’s not just magic; we have the wiring diagram full of how this happens.

Brain circuits are key to human growth at puberty. The scientists found that when the brain receptors they do not function normally people tend to be shorter and have a later onset of puberty.

The team studied the genetic design of half a million registered volunteers in
UK Biobank
, a huge database of genetic and health information, to confirm your hypothesis.

Children who showed genetic mutations that altered the functioning of the brain receptor they were all shorter and they weighed less than the other minors studied, which reveals that the effects of the receptor’s action begin in the first years of life.

The researchers found one person who had mutations in both copies of the gen del MC3R, which is extremely rare and harmful. This person was very short and did not start puberty until he was 20 years old.

Drugs for the future

But humans are no exception in this. The experts studied mice and found that a similar mechanism operates in animals. This discovery could benefit children with severe growth delays and those weakened by chronic diseases who need to build their muscles.

‘Future research should study whether drugs that activate the MC3R they could help redirect calories to muscles and other non-fat tissues to improve physical functionality in these patients, ‘says Professor O’Rahilly.

Scientists have already identified another receptor in the brain that controls appetite, called MC4R, and those who lack it are usually obese.

How far can people grow?

There is a ceiling for growth and it is reached when people reach their genetic potential. Factors like diet and health have a huge impact on whether that happens.

When children from families with fewer resources get enough food and calories, they can grow to the height they inherited from their parents and grandparents.

Taller people generally live longer and are less likely to have heart problems. Statistics show that they also tend to have higher income. Humans cannot keep growing forever.

As in many other European countries, the average height of the population has skyrocketed in the UK in the last century, but there are signs that it has slowed in the last 10 years.

The largest height gains in the past century were among South Korean women and Iranian men.

The tallest people in the world are males born in the Netherlands, (1.82 m.). At the other extreme are women born in Guatemala (1.40).

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