Fat to Fit: Mustard Plant Steroid Makes Mighty Muscle

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Fat to fit, that’s what a plant steroid in the mustard family accomplished in a recent study feeding rats with the plant steroid homobrassinolide. Researchers state that their findings suggest that eating homobrassinolide triggers an anabolic response without the androgenic side effects typical of steroid use.

In a study published in the October issue of the scientific journal Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology (FASEB), researchers have discovered that 28-Homobrassinolide, a plant steroid similar to cholesterol-derived animal steroid hormones has potent growth-promoting properties. The researchers found that homobrassinolide stimulates protein synthesis and inhibits protein degradation in rat skeletal muscle cells that resulted in rats that became leaner and stronger.

In the study, tissue cultures of rat skeletal cells were treated with varying amounts of homobrassinolide. Protein measurements were made of the tissue cultures and the skeletal cells were found to have increased protein synthesis and decreased protein degradation.

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Animal studies followed where healthy rats were fed homobrassinolide for 24 days. Control rats in comparison were fed a normal diet without homobrassinolide. Both rats with and without homobrassinolide in their diets were then measured for changes in their body weight, body composition and food intake. What the researchers discovered was that rats fed homobrassinolide had an increased lean body mass whereas the control rats did not.

In further studies, pre-pubertal castrated rats were fed homobrassinolide to determine whether homobrassinolide treatment could restore muscle and strength loss due to the androgen deprivation from the castration. The researchers found that homobrassinolide treatment increased the grip strength of castrated rats who were tested for their ability to cling to a raised bar. Analysis of their muscle fibers showed an increased number and size of muscle fibers in comparison to castrated rats that were not fed homobrassinolide.

According to Slavko Komarnytsky, Ph.D., a researcher involved in the work from the Plants for Human Health Institute, FBNS at North Carolina State University in Kannapolis, N.C, "We hope that one day brassinosteroids may provide an effective, natural, and safe alternative for age- and disease-associated muscle loss, or be used to improve endurance and physical performance," he says. "Because some plants we eat contain these compounds, like mustards, in the future we may be able to breed or engineer these plants for higher brassinosteroid content, thus producing functional foods that can treat or prevent diseases and increase physical performance."

Source: D. Esposito, S. Komarnytsky, S. Shapses, I. Raskin. Anabolic effect of plant brassinosteroid. The FASEB Journal, 2011; 25 (10): http://www.fasebj.org/content/25/10/3708

Image credit: Wikimedia commons

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