The Impact of Neandertal DNA on Human Health

Related Articles

Related Articles

A researcher at the University of Tartu described new associations between Neandertal DNA and autoimmune diseases, prostate cancer and type 2 diabetes.

Modern humans migrated out of Africa more than 60,000 years ago and met and interbred with Neandertals and other archaic human groups. As a consequence, we can find that a few percent of the genomes of people outside of Africa contain traces of archaic ancestry. Large-scale resources with genetic and medical data are needed to find out how this archaic remains affect modern human health.

Most previous studies have examined European population-specific cohorts. However, the Neandertal DNA content is quite different between Europeans and Asians and our knowledge limited about non-European Neandertal DNA. A new study by Senior Research Fellow of Evolutionary and Population Genomics Michael Dannemann analyzed Neandertal associated phenotypes in an Asian cohort and compared it to those discovered in a European cohort.

 

This study provides evidence that the impact of Neandertal DNA on the immune system has not been population-specific. “My findings show that while the Neandertal DNA in European and Asian populations differ they both contain variants that increase the risk of autoimmune diseases like dermatitis, Graves’ disease and rheumatoid arthritis,” said Dannemann.

Another disease for which associations were found in both populations was prostate cancer. Dannemann said that the difference is here that this gene variant had a protective effect which means it reduces the risk for prostate cancer.

Of particular interest were the Neandertal associations with type 2 diabetes, a disease influencing many people today. The result of this study showed that Neandertal-linked associations were only found in Asians and showed evidence for an over-proportional effect on this disease given the Neandertal DNA content in this population.

However, given the different associated archaic variants in both European and Asian cohorts, the results of this study also suggest that the effects of how Neandertal DNA influences immunity might be population-specific. “This is highlighting the importance of studying a wider range of ancestries to help us to ascertain how the phenotypic legacy of Neandertals influences modern humans today,” added Dannemann.

ESTONIAN RESEARCH COUNCIL

Header Image Credit : Public Domain

Download the HeritageDaily mobile application on iOS and Android

More on this topic

LATEST NEWS

Study Sheds New Light on the Behaviour of the Giant Carnivorous Dinosaur Spinosaurus

New research from Queen Mary University of London and the University of Maryland, has reignited the debate around the behaviour of the giant dinosaur Spinosaurus.

New Skull of Tube-Crested Dinosaur Reveals Evolution of Bizarre Crest

The first new skull of a rare species of the dinosaur Parasaurolophus (recognized by the large hollow tube that grows on its head) discovered in 97 years.

Women Influenced Coevolution of Dogs and Humans

In a cross-cultural analysis, Washington State University researchers found several factors may have played a role in building the mutually beneficial relationship between humans and dogs, including temperature, hunting and surprisingly - gender.

Dinosaur Embryo Helps Crack Baby Tyrannosaur Mystery

They are among the largest predators ever to walk the Earth, but experts have discovered that some baby tyrannosaurs were only the size of a Border Collie dog when they took their first steps.

First People to Enter the Americas Likely Did so With Their Dogs

The first people to settle in the Americas likely brought their own canine companions with them, according to new research which sheds more light on the origin of dogs.

Climate Change in Antiquity: Mass Emigration Due to Water Scarcity

The absence of monsoon rains at the source of the Nile was the cause of migrations and the demise of entire settlements in the late Roman province of Egypt.

Archaeologists Discover Bas-Relief of Golden Eagle at Aztec Templo Mayor

A team of archaeologists from the Instituto Nacional de Antropologia e Historia (INAH) have announced the discovery of a bas-relief depicting an American golden eagle (aquila chrysaetos canadensis).

Lost Alaskan Fort of the Tlingit Discovered

Researchers from Cornell University and the National Park Service have discovered the remnants of a wooden fort in Alaska – the Tlingit people’s last physical bulwark against Russian colonisation forces in 1804.

Popular stories

Exploring the Stonehenge Landscape

The Stonehenge Landscape contains over 400 ancient sites, that includes burial mounds known as barrows, Woodhenge, the Durrington Walls, the Stonehenge Cursus, the Avenue, and surrounds the monument of Stonehenge which is managed by English Heritage.

The Iron Age Tribes of Britain

The British Iron Age is a conventional name to describe the independent Iron Age cultures that inhabited the mainland and smaller islands of present-day Britain.

The Roman Conquest of Wales

The conquest of Wales began in either AD 47 or 48, following the landing of Roman forces in Britannia sent by Emperor Claudius in AD 43.

Vallum Antonini – The Antonine Wall

The Antonine Wall (Vallum Antonini) was a defensive wall built by the Romans in present-day Scotland, that ran for 39 miles between the Firth of Forth, and the Firth of Clyde (west of Edinburgh along the central belt).