A research team including an Indian origin scientist has found that blocking a muscle growth-limiting hormone can protect against obesity and atherosclerosis.
The study showed that knocking out myostatin, a growth factor that limits muscle growth, could decrease body fat and promote resistance against developing atherosclerosis, or "hardening" of the arteries.
"Obesity increases the risk of atherosclerosis, which accounts for 75percent of all cardiovascular events, such as heart attacks and strokes," said study co-author Dr Shalender Bhasin, professor of medicine at Boston University School of Medicine and chief of the Section of Endocrinology, Diabetes, and Nutrition at Boston Medical Centre.
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 found that mice with deleted myostatin gene had much less body fat and 30 percent lower fasting blood sugar and 80pct 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 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.
However, Bhasin said that more research is needed to demonstrate the safety and effectiveness of myostatin inhibitors in humans.
The results were presented at The Endocrine Society's 91st Annual Meeting in Washington, D.C.