Is that steroid French's? Or Heinz?
This is Sandra Tsing Loh with the Loh Down on Science.
Meet Slavko Komarnytsky from North Carolina State University. Komarnytsky recently examined the garden-variety, and tasty, mustard plant. It contains the plant steroid homobrassinolide.
Komarnytsky exposed rat skeletal muscle cells to the compound, then measured how much the cells synthesized new protein.
Next he fed healthy rats the stuff for 24 days, monitoring them with dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry, or DXA--a technique that precisely gauges changes in body composition and bone mineral density.
The steriod was fed to both beefed-up Schwarzen-rats, fed high-protein diets, and to mousy, girly-man rats, missing the male hormone, androgen.
Result? All rats increased protein synthesis and buffed up, but without side effects--other than a hankering for hot dogs and curly fries.
Does homobrassinolide cut the mustard for human use? Komarnytsky says someday it might help prevent muscle loss from age or disease.
In the meantime, if the football stadium snack vendor runs out of condiments? You might check the locker room.
The Loh Down on Science, online, at lohdown.org. Produced by 89.3 KPCC and the California Institute of Technology, and made possible by TIAA-CREF.
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