Scientists have found DNA changes that affect human height


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Scientists have found DNA changes that affect human height

Carried out on a large scale study that included more than 700,000 adults made it possible to reveal 83 new DNA changes that are responsible for human growth. Understanding the genetics associated with the aspect of our growth can help to develop tools to predict the risk of many common diseases.

According to research conducted by The Genetic Investigation of Anthropometric Traits (GIANT) consortium, was discovered 83 genetic variants that affect on this how we grow. The consortium investigates human genes that modulate the size and shape of the body, including those that involve our growth or obesity.

Previous studies on the whole genome, called GWAS conducted to locate genetic variants helped quickly scan the entire genomes with a large population of markers, which are responsible for specific features. This study was successful in finding common genetic variants, but most of them affect the growth of only less than 1 millimeter. However, they managed to find more unusual genetic variants that have a greater impact on human height. A problem, however, it became those common genetic variants that are associated with specific features, are beyond the parts of the protein coding genes, and this location significantly hinders the discovery of what specific elements of DNA changes, have the greatest impact.

Some of the discovered genetic variants have a significant impact on human height

In the new study, the researchers decided to use a different technology – ExomeChip, to eliminate some of the problems with the study of GWAS. The new method made it possible to test more than 200,000 already known to us so far genetic variants that were less common in the research group of the number of 711,428 people. These known variants represent a kind of shortcut to the work of genes that are important for individual health problems or human characteristics. Most of these compilation has not been previously evaluated for its effect on human height.


Of the 83 identified the new method variants that affect the human growth, 51 of them belonged to those of the “low-frequency” that appear in less than 5% of and 32 of them occurred in less than 0.5 % of people who have been examined.

Among the 83 genetic variants, some of them influenced the increased by more than 2cm height, which is amazing. The genes affected by these changes, among others, may modulate the production and activation of bone cells, cartilage development, and growth hormone. A team of researchers noted that these genetic variants could explain 27.4 percent of inherited traits.

The study also found several genes that potentially could be channeled therapeutically for the children with growth disorders. STC2 – one of the genes responsible for DNA changes, significantly affects the growth. Genetic changes that inactivate this gene increase the growth of people with altered DNA by an average of 1-2 cm, so you can see that it is working on some growth factors. It can, therefore, be concluded that drugs that block the activity of STC2 could have an impact on growth, which is very promising.

These findings may help to find a way to predict the risk of certain diseases. These results seem to bear fruit and allow to expand the horizons of the search for similar dependence on genetic variations related diseases such as diabetes, cancer, schizophrenia, cardiovascular disease and many others. Understanding of human genetics can help predict certain features or disease risk in advance, which in turn will quickly take appropriate therapeutic measures.

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