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Scientists demystify male puberty

News18

Updated: March 16, 2011, 10:35 AM IST
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Scientists demystify male puberty
Male puberty is controlled by a protein called SMAD3.

Sydney: Why do some boys reach puberty early while the rest enjoy the idyllic bliss of childhood much longer? Scientists may have identified the answer - a protein called SMAD3.

The key to their findings lies with SMAD3 and the rate at which it is produced.

Associate Professor Kate Loveland and Catherine Itman from Monash University in Australia have discovered that half as much SMAD3 protein results in faster maturation than the norm, and an inability to create SMAD3 results in abnormal responses to testosterone.

"SMAD3 is a protein that translates signals from the environment outside the cell to the nucleus, where it switches genes on or off," Itman said, according to the journal Endocrinology.

"We have been investigating how SMAD3 influences the growth of testis cells and their ability to respond to testosterone," she said.

Puberty begins when the body starts to produce large amounts of hormone testosterone. Early puberty involves the onset of puberty before eight years of age and affects around 1 in 10,000 boys, according to a Monash statement.

On the other hand, puberty is delayed when testis cells cannot respond normally to testosterone.

Altered timing of puberty has implications in adulthood, with precocious puberty linked to reduced adult height and delayed puberty associated with reduced bone density.

First Published: March 16, 2011, 10:35 AM IST
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