Rheumatic diseases affect women three times more often than men and innovative Stanford research points to gender-specific genetic switches playing a role in this disparate prevalence.
A new technology for studying the body’s system for switching genes on and off reveals that genes associated with the immune system switch on and off more frequently, and these genes operate differently from person to person and between women and men. Even in identical twins, who have the same genes, one twin could have an auto-immune disease and the other could be well. In this study, the team reported that over a third of the variation in gene activity was not connected to genetic differences, suggesting a role for the environment. But they also reported that the single biggest predictor for genes’ tendency to turn on and off was the sex of the person. Whilst too early to be definitive, this difference in activity might explain the much higher incidence in women of auto-immune diseases.
To read the full Stamford Medicine News Centre article by Jennie Dusheck of July 29 2015 click below: