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This is for actualmenacebuckybarnes, becase this shit is way too long for an ask.
Okay, so what we know the serum did:
- Put on muscle and bone mass.
- Increased his metabolism by 4, according to the Marvel Guide Book
- Gave him increased endurance and strength, super healing and increased natural faculties
- Cured him of all his illnesses
To address 1 and 4, I think the serum was mostly a growth hormone that triggered stem cell growth throughout his body. In a normal human, stem cells are found only during fetal development and very early childhood, resulting in cell differentiation. If this is triggered en mass in an adult, it would cue mass cell turnover, effectively allowing the manipulation of very specific disorders, such as Steve’s scoliosis and color blindness and coupled with a growth hormone not unlike ones they have today, this could also lead to drastic increases in muscle and bone mass. This would also lead to new neurons, making his brain larger and opening new pathways.
For number 2, metabolism is really controlled by one organ, the thyroid. In humans,over or under active thyroids lead to pretty gross side effects including severe mental retardation, but given a perfect case, altering the thyroid’s behavior could lead to increased need for food, partially explain his increase in mass, and increases in endurance.
Speaking of endurance, the serum would have had to change the way he sweats to result in increased heat tolerance, change the way he digests to get more nutrients out of food, and things that aren’t food but still could be eaten. (Steve has eaten some really gross stuff in canon to little effect.) He also would have more efficient lungs and oxygen transfer, reducing physical stress and load on his body even during high physical activities.
There is a good chance the PH buffers in his body also changed to have a higher threshold for pain and injury, and increased healing would probably be related to the stem cells I mentioned earlier, plus enhanced metabolism leading to faster cell turn-over.
And if we’re going with a stem cell theory, this would probably not drastically alter his genetics, though things like metabolism could need to be altered at a genetic level, which explains why a super soldier breeding program would be unlikely to work very well.
applying my biology boner to your biology boner (it’s not gay if our science dweeb balls don’t touch??)
Actually, they’ve found stem cells in adult humans, the only specific place i can remember is in the hippocampus (one of the deep brain structures implicated in the formation of long-term memories!) (goes on a long bucky ramble about if the serum rly bumps up yr stem cells, and how it might affect his memory after having the ever-loving shit zapped out of him!)
I like the stem cell + growth hormone hypothesis because you can solve a lot of sci fi problems by throwing stem cells at em
I don’t get the cell turnover —> fixed scoliosis connection though? from what little i know of scoliosis and bones in general, rapid cell death & regrowth wouldn’t do much in the short term to change the structure of his spine. it’s more likely that his spine was literally pulled back into shape when the muscles supporting it were suddenly strengthened. that’s the general treatment for adults w/ scoliosis today—exercise to strengthen your back, torso, and leg muscles, plus pain management, plus maybe a brace in severe conditions
colorblindness also wouldn’t be fixed w/ cell turnover, because it’s generally caused by your retinal cells not producing the photopigments that chemically detect different wavelengths of light. the cells literally don’t have the genes that instruct your RNA to make those pigments. your retinal cells are already replaced about once a day! part of me is wondering if steve is really actually colorblind, or if it’s just something they threw out there to pad his list of conditions, because it was only briefly on screen and never mentioned by any of the characters. was he colorblind in the comicsverse?
having more neurons or a bigger brain (not mutually inclusive things) does not actually lead to increased intelligence/reflexes/aptitude/whatever! because neurons are hungry little fucks, they use up a LOT of glucose & oxygen, so adding a bunch of them all at once would just starve out the whole lot. intelligence and reflexes come from the synchronization of neuronal firing, from the pathways you set down through repetition. you actually had about twice as many neurons as an infant than you do today— all those neurons grew and divided rapidly and threw down connections with everything the could get their grubby little dendrites on, and the ones that didn’t make enough connections, or didn’t connect in useful enough ways, were killed off mercilessly. i don’t actually know how they’d improve his reflexes or heighten his senses just using some mystery serum. still tryna work that one out.
the metabolism thing is a bit tricky, cause there’s a couple different ways of defining metabolism. if we’re just talking about energy+oxygen usage, there’s a really simple explanation: he’s bigger. he’s got more muscle mass, so he burns more glucose, no thyroid fuckery necessary. the increased metabolism would be a side effect of the serum, in this case.
if we’re defining metabolism as the ability to extract nutrients from things, or as the ability to metabolize poisons and toxins that would lay out a normal man [side note: alcohol is technically a toxin. steve can’t get drunk in the mcu. thus, the serum at least caused the second thing], then yeah they’d have to fuck with his entire digestive system somehow. especially the liver. i basically don’t know shit about the liver, i’ll have to research this & get back to you
yes to the more efficient lungs thing, apart from increasing his muscle & bone mass the serum mostly seems to have made all his organs more efficient. how did they do this? SCIENCE. i have no fucking idea abt the specifics
rapid cell turnover WOULD lead to more rapid healing. i can’t decide if this would make him more or less likely to get cancer, though?? because turnover includes cell growth AND cell death, and if his cells are dividing more often than normal that means there’s more opportunities for potentially-tumor-causing mistakes to be made when copying the DNA, but if you’re also bumping up the rate of natural programmed cell death then that would also kind of kneecap any tumors that tried to get off the ground? maybe ???
could the op explain the pH buffer-pain tolerance connection, please? idgi
i’m leaning more towards the stem cell/growth hormone cocktail theory rather than the genetic-alteration theory if only because widespread genetic alteration wouldn’t produce immediate or reliable results. the state of our CURRENT gene therapy is ridiculous, basically you chuck a bunch of programmed viruses at a cell culture and hope they correctly rewrite the DNA there, and then you hope the DNA change is correctly read by the RNA, and then you hope the DNA change produces the altered proteins you thought it would, and then you hope the DNA change is passed on to the daughter cells when your altered cell splits or else all of this was completely useless. the chances of all of the serum’s changes working on steve the first time, and not leaving him a bag of tumors & various defects, are ASTRONOMICAL.
As for Ph buffers, they prevent chemical reactions in blood and cell fluids because they absorb acids and bases. So having a stronger, more adaptable buffer in your body means you’d have a higher tolerance for acids, bases and the chemical effects of temperature. So things that would be damaging for a normal human like acids, heat or any chemical that attacks cells, would do a lot less damage. (I just realized that this is not quite the same thing as pain tolerance.)
Part of why I think stem cells would be a big part of fixing a lot of the chronic injury is that new cells would be much easier to realign than existing ones, and coupled with the massive growth would be much more elastic for differentiated growth. Also, seeing as there are forms of colorblindness that are caused by an absence or reduction in certain vision cells, it is possible that a mass triggering of stem cell growth would also fix his eye issues. (This would be dependent on the cause of his color blindness.)
And you’re right to point out that an increase in brain size alone wouldn’t lead to increased ability for sure, but it would almost guarantee increased emotional response thanks to growth in the hippocampus and amygdala and the rest of the limbic system along with potential for enhanced memory. (We Steve remember a HYDRA map perfectly after just a glance, so his memory is pretty photographic after the serum.)
As far as the liver, increased liver function would have to be a change in enzymatic functions, which would also bear out changes in blood, including increased red blood cell turnover potentially enhancing the body’s ability to carry oxygen.
Fun fact: Captain America would probably pee more than the average person.
What happens if you take a baby Alethia/Chamomile/Starshine/HDM witch, and raise her in a universe where there is no native creature plausibly describable as a bird? Does her daemon just somehow know to take bird shapes and then settle as one? Through what mechanism? If you established a population of witches in a birdless universe, none of whom had ever seen a bird or heard someone describe a bird, what would their daemons end up like?