“Cartilage” affects your height

How tall you can grow may not only be “life”, but also related to the growth plate.

Growth plates, which are cartilage near the ends of bones, harden as children develop. The cells in the growth plate determine the length and shape of a person’s bones and can affect height. Now, American scientists have found that genetic changes that affect chondrocytes maturation may strongly affect adult height. The study was published April 14 in Cell Genomics.

As a pediatric endocrinologist concerned with children with bone diseases, Nora Renthal of Boston Children’s Hospital and Harvard University is interested in understanding how bones grow.

To pinpoint genes associated with height, she screened 600 million mouse chondrocytes to identify genes that alter cell growth and maturation when deleted. The study found 145 genes, most of which are associated with bone diseases and are essential for growth plate maturation and bone formation.

The team then compared the discovered gene to data from the Human Height-Whole Genome Association Study (GWAS). GWAS allows researchers to survey the entire human genome to identify “height gene” hotspots in people’s DNA. But these regions may contain multiple genes, making it difficult for researchers to track and study a single target.

“It’s a bit like finding a friend’s home, but you only know the zip code.” Renthal said, “It’s difficult. ”

Comparative analysis showed that genes affecting chondrocytes overlapped with hot spots found by GWAS to pinpoint genes in people’s DNA that might determine height. The researchers also found that height genes cause chondrocytes to mature early, suggesting that genetic changes that affect chondrocytes maturation may have a greater impact on height.

“Our study really understands the genetics of bone. Height is a good starting point for understanding the relationship between genes, growth plates, and bone growth because we can easily measure height. Renthal said. But she also said that the study of mouse cells may not be fully applicable to humans, and GWAS is an observational study that does not fully explain the causal relationship of height. But her research offers a new way to connect the two studies and provides new insights into human genetics.

Next, the team plans to understand the effects of hormones on chondrocytes. They will also study 145 genes known not to be associated with bone growth. The research may reveal new genes and pathways that work in bones.

“I’ve seen some patients with skeletal dysplasia who don’t have any treatment because the genes make their bones grow like this.” “Hopefully, the more we know about growth plate biology, the more we can intervene in bone growth and improve the lives of children at an early stage,” Renthal said. (Source: Feng Weiwei, China Science News)

Image courtesy of Pixabay

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