in

New Research Suggests The X Chromosome May Be The Reason Why Women Are Four Times More Likely Than Men To Develop Autoimmune Diseases

svetograph - stock.adobe.com - illustrative purposes only, not the actual person

Women are actually up to four times as likely as men to develop autoimmune diseases, where the immune system erroneously targets the body’s own cells.

Researchers believe they’ve found the reason behind this higher susceptibility in women, too. It could be linked to the way the body manages its X chromosomes.

Humans possess two kinds of chromosomes, labeled X and Y. Typically, females have a pair of X chromosomes in every cell, whereas males usually have one X and one Y chromosome.

The X chromosome is not only bigger than the Y but also houses a significantly larger number of genes responsible for protein synthesis.

However, in individuals with two X chromosomes, only one is required for the production of proteins to avoid an overload of proteins in the cells.

To manage this, one of the X chromosomes in each cell undergoes a process known as “silencing” during the embryonic development stage in females.

A lengthy RNA molecule, known as Xist, which is closely related to DNA, plays a key role in this silencing process by attaching itself to one of the X chromosomes.

Interestingly, it has been observed that Xist tends to attract many proteins, forming large complexes of RNA and proteins.

This propensity for proteins to bind to Xist could make females more susceptible to autoimmune diseases.

svetograph – stock.adobe.com – illustrative purposes only, not the actual person

Sign up for Chip Chick’s newsletter and get stories like this delivered to your inbox.

1 of 3