2021-02-23

New study finds that 20% of people have genetic mutations that better protect against cold

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New study finds that 20% of people have genetic mutations that better protect against cold

The deletion of this protein is due to a mutation in the gene encoding this protein. From an evolutionary perspective, when humans migrated from Africa to the colder climates of Central and Northern Europe, the presence of this mutant gene increased.

Some people are naturally good at keeping warm

One of the co-authors of the research paper, Håkan Westerblad of Karolinska Institute, said: “This shows that people lacking α-aktinin-3 are more It can keep warm and can tolerate more severe weather in terms of energy. But there is no direct experimental evidence to prove this before.”

Westerblad said: “We can now prove that the loss of this protein makes We have greater resilience to the cold. We have also discovered a possible mechanism.”

In this study, 42 healthy men aged between 18 and 40 were sitting Cold water (14°C) until their body temperature drops to 35.5°C.

During the immersion in cold water, the researchers used electromyography (EMG) to measure the subjects’ muscle electrical activity. They also performed muscle biopsy to study protein content and fiber type composition.

The results show that the skeletal muscles of people lacking α-aktinin-3 have a larger proportion of slow-twitch fibers. When they are cooling down, these people can maintain their body temperature in a more energy-efficient way.

Unlike activating fast-contracting fibers (causing noticeable chills), they increase the activation of slow-contracting fibers that generate heat by increasing baseline contraction (tonicity).

Westerblad pointed out: “In the process of migrating to cold climates, mutations may give evolutionary advantages.” But now, he said, this ability may increase the risk of some “riches and honour diseases”, such as Type 2 diabetes, asthma and heart disease.

Another interesting issue is how the lack of α-aktinin-3 affects the body’s response to physical exercise.

“People who lack α-aktinin-3 rarely succeed in sports that require strength and explosiveness. In endurance sports, these people have observed a tendency to have greater abilities,” Westerblad said .

The researchers concluded that people lacking α-actin-3 “show better cold tolerance when immersed in cold water.” This is to some extent related to the effective fever increase in muscle tone, rather than the obvious shaking.

More than 50,000 years ago, when modern humans migrated from Africa to the colder climates of Central and Northern Europe, these discoveries provided a mechanism for the increase in the frequency of this mutation.