Did evolution give us inflammatory disease?

March 21, 2013

In new research published on March 21, 2013 in the online issue of The American Journal of Human Genetics, researchers from Brigham and Women's Hospital (BWH) demonstrate that some variants in our genes that contribute to a person's risk for inflammatory diseases such as multiple sclerosis, Crohn's disease or rheumatoid arthritis, have been the target of natural selection over the course of human history.

The research team, led by Philip De Jager, MD, PhD, BWH Department of Neurology and Barbara Stranger, PhD, University of Chicago, looked at genome-wide association studies along with protein- networks, as well as other data and found 21 places in the genome that bear a 'signature' for both inflammatory disease susceptibility and natural selection.

Towfique Raj, PhD, BWH Department of Neurology, is the lead author on this study. The study's findings suggest that, in the past, these variants rose in frequency in the human population to help protect humans against viruses, bacteria and other pathogens. But now in our modern world, the environment and exposure to pathogens has changed, and the genetic variants that were originally meant to protect us, now make an autoimmune reaction more likely. These results are consistent with the in which our cleaner environment is thought to contribute to the increasing prevalence of inflammatory diseases.

Explore further: A hidden architecture: Researchers use novel methods to uncover gene mutations for common diseases

More information: www.cell.com/AJHG/abstract/S0002-9297(13)00109-2

Related Stories

Genetic risk for uterine fibroids discovered

October 4, 2012

Uterine fibroids are the most common type of pelvic tumors in women and are the leading cause of hysterectomy in the United States. Researchers from Brigham and Women's Hospital (BWH) are the first to discover a genetic risk ...

Rare gene variants linked to inflammatory bowel disease

October 10, 2011

(Medical Xpress) -- An international team of scientists, including researchers from Karolinska Institutet, have identified several rare gene variants that predispose to IBD (Inflammatory Bowel Disease). The study provides ...

Recommended for you

A surprise advance in the treatment of adult cancers

January 11, 2017

A team of researchers at the Research Institute of the McGill University Health Centre (RI-MUHC) has found an epigenetic modification that might be the cause of 15% of adult cancers of the throat linked to alcohol and tobacco ...

High-sugar diet programs a short lifespan in flies

January 10, 2017

Flies with a history of eating a high sugar diet live shorter lives, even after their diet improves. This is because the unhealthy diet drives long-term reprogramming of gene expression, according to a UCL-led team of researchers.

Cultural differences may leave their mark on DNA

January 10, 2017

A UC San Francisco-led study has identified signatures of ethnicity in the genome that appear to reflect an ethnic group's shared culture and environment, rather than their common genetic ancestry.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.