Myostatin Deficiency is all the Rage

With the ever looming dawn of myostatin inhibitors it makes you wonder what the possibilities are for maximum muscular development.  While nothing exists for us average wannabe IFBB bodybuilder joes, there are certain things in history that give us glimpses into what a true myostatin inhibitor can really do.  Or perhaps a better way to put it is how big a person with a myostatin deficiency can truly be.

First, the simplest way to explain myostatin is that it is a chalone, or in simpler terms a negative regulator of muscle mass.  More myostatin equals less muscle.  It’s bad mmmkay.  Now let’s go back to 1998, where the infamous Victor Conte of BALCO Laboratories (you know the whole Barry Bonds thing…) wrote a letter describing a study conducted with the Department of Human Genetics at the University of Pittsburgh.  As far as I know this study was never officially published in any peer reviewed journal.  But here’s what Victor had to say about one of the greatest bodybuilders of our time – Flex Wheeler:Myostatin Deficiency

“Flex was a participant in a study we recently conducted in collaboration with the Department of Human Genetics at the University of Pittsburgh involving 62 men who made unusually large gains in muscle mass in response to strength training (extreme responders). Flex was one of only nine extreme responders that had the very rare “myostatin mutation.” Myostatin is the gene that “limits muscle growth.” Specifically, Flex had the rarest form of myostatin mutation at the “exon 2″ position on the gene. This simply means Flex has a much larger number of muscle fibers compared to the other subjects or the normal population. We believe that these are the very first myostatin mutation findings in humans and the results of this landmark study have already been submitted for publication.”

While never published it’s not completely unbelievable that Flex Wheeler had a myostatin deficiency.  He had quite the physique.  Today Big Ramy or Mamdouh Elssbiay from Kuwait is often speculated to have some sort of mystatin deficiency.  While we may never know, we do know of one person who in fact is myostatin deficient.  Well sorta…

A Future Mr. Olympia

In 2004 the New England Journal of Medicine published a case study which described a woman who had a normal pregnancy and birth [1].  She also happened to be a professional athlete.  The father was unknown, or at least not revealed in the paper, but just hours after birth the child was taken to a special care ward of the hospital for analysis.  Why?  Well the child, and how do I put this correctly….  Well he was a freak.  By freak I mean muscle bound baby.  The case study states the following:

“He appeared extraordinarily muscular, with protruding muscles in his thighs and upper arms. With the exception of increased tendon reflexes, the physical examination was normal.”

His testosterone and IGF-1 levels were all normal for a baby, as well as all health biomarkers.  But this baby literally had some significant quad sweep right out of the womb.  In fact he had a quadriceps cross sectional are 7.2 times greater than other babies his age.  He also had subcutaneous fat levels that were almost 3 times less than his peers.  They continued to follow the child until he reached 4.5 years of age.

“Now, at 4.5 years of age, he continues to have increased muscle bulk and strength, and he is able to hold two 3-kg dumbbells in horizontal suspension with his arms extended.”

They also indicated the mother was muscular, but not anything beyond normal for a professional athlete.  They do note several other males in the family lineage that were known for being exceptionally strong, although they were not available for genetic testing.  Nonetheless they did extensive genetic testing on the child.  They also took blood samples.  They found that the child did in fact have a myostatin gene mutation.  And no myostatin was found in his blood, unlike his peers.  In other words this young child was myostatin deficient.  Take a look at his muscular development as a baby, and at 7 months old below (note the large quads and calves):

myostatin deficiency

By my approximation this kid is around 15 to 16 years old today.  So while he may not ever step on a bodybuilding stage, it would be interesting to find out some future superstar also had a professional athlete for a mother.  Since for now the New England Journal of Medicine has not told us who this little freak (I say freak in a good way) is or how his health is today.  So until then, this is about my boldest bodybuilding prediction ever.

By Travis DeGraff


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