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Peyronie’s disease (Peyronie’s) is a disorder characterized by muscle weakness and wasting that affects both men and women. It is caused by a deficiency in an enzyme called myostatin.
Myostatin acts like a “brake” on muscles, preventing them from becoming overactive or hyperactive. The most common symptom of peyronie’s disease is loss of strength in the legs and arms. Other symptoms include pain, swelling, numbness, tingling, and weakness in the limbs.
In addition to causing muscle weakness, peyronie’s disease may cause other problems such as hair loss, infertility, reduced fertility, osteoporosis and cardiovascular diseases. However, these effects tend to occur later in life than those associated with other disorders of skeletal muscle.
There is no cure for peyronie’s disease. Treatments include diet modification and exercise training.
The disease is caused by a problem with the plaques that make up part of the connective tissue layer covering the walls of some blood vessels. Normally, these plaques, called “atheromas,” are elastic and allow blood to flow past them unrestricted.
If the walls of an atheroma become hard and thick, they can restrict the flow of blood. Restricted blood flow can decrease the oxygen supply to parts of the body and increase the risk of heart attacks and strokes.
When a plaque begins to restrict blood flow, its elasticity is reduced. Plaques stay elastic as long as their calcium content remains low.
As the calcium level in an atheroma increases, the plaque’s structure becomes stiffer and less able to flex. Hard plaques that completely block the flow of blood are most likely to cause heart attacks and strokes.
Research has shown that there is a close relationship between atheromas and skeletal muscle disorders. Atheromas contain large amounts of an enzyme called “matrix metalloproteinase-2”.
In excessive amounts, this enzyme breaks down bone and cartilage components in the body. By attacking cartilage, for example, it could cause the joints to become arthritic. By attacking the membranes surrounding individual cells it could cause muscular pains and weakness.
Recent studies have found that fewer atheromas are present in people with muscular dystrophy (a muscle wasting disease). The opposite is also true: people with muscular dystrophy tend to get clots and restricted blood flow, which can lead to heart attacks and strokes.
In both cases, the reason seems to be related to a lack of myostatin, the protein that acts like a “brake”
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