Finally revealed why we are growing taller, with each passing generation

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Carlos Laforet Coll
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A new study has shown how a receptor in the brain could regulate both the rate of growth and the timing of puberty

Don't store avocado like this: it's dangerous

A new study has shown how a receptor in the brain could regulate both the rate of growth and the timing of puberty





According to a new one study a receptor in the brain, called MC3R, detects the nutritional status of the body and regulates the timing of puberty, the rate of growth in children and increases muscle mass.

These findings may explain why the human beings have grown taller; in fact, over the course of the 10th century the average height increased by around 20cm in the UK and up to XNUMXcm in other countries.

A systematic review

Scientists have long suggested that the phenomenon of increased height may be related to easier access to food for pregnant women and children, but until now it has not been understood exactly how the body perceives its nutritional status and transforms these. information in sexual growth and maturation.

It was already known that signals reach the brain to indicate the nutritional status of the body, such as the hormone leptin, produced in fat (fat) cells, and insulin, produced in response to rising blood sugar levels. In a part of the brain called the hypothalamus, these hormones act on a small group of neurons that produce signals called melanocortine.

Melanocortins act on a variety of receptors, two of which are present in the brain. One of these, the melanocortin 4 receptor (MC4R) has been shown to regulate appetite, and the lack of MC4R causes obesity; however, the MC4R system does not control the effect of nutrition on growth and the timing of puberty. This new review uncovered a role for the brain's other melanocortin receptor, known as the melanocortina 3 (MC3R).

The researchers found that, in response to nutritional signals, the MC3R system controls the release of key hormones that regulate sexual growth and maturation. To show the link in humans, scientists looked for people with natural genetic mutations, which disrupt the function of MC3R, among the half million volunteers of the British Biobank. They identified a few thousand people carrying various mutations in MC3R and found that these were lower on average, and entered puberty later than those without mutations.



To confirm these findings in children, they analyzed nearly 6.000 participants in the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children (ALSPAC) and identified six children with MC3R mutations. The six children were shorter and had lower lean mass and weight in childhood, showing this effect starts very early in life.

This discovery shows how the brain can perceive nutrients and interpret them to make subconscious decisions that affect our growth and sexual development. 

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Photos: Nature

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