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

According to a recent study involving both mice and humans, this occurs because these complexes can trigger an immune response, leading the body to produce antibodies targeting the proteins contained within them.

“So besides Xist’s job in controlling gene activity, there’s really a major immunological imprint that maybe hadn’t been previously recognized,” said Dr. Howard Chang, the study’s co-senior author.

Thus, Chang believes this discovery may pave the way for exploring new treatment options for autoimmune diseases.

Autoimmune diseases impact over 23.5 million people in the United States and result from a mix of genetic factors and environmental influences.

Although researchers have suggested various hypotheses to understand why women are more prone to these disorders, citing factors such as hormones and the microorganisms living in and on their bodies, none of these theories have been definitively proven.

Previous studies conducted by Chang and his team indicated that the Xist complex might contribute to the gender differences observed in autoimmunity, given its ability to bind with numerous proteins linked to autoimmune diseases.

However, to accurately assess Xist’s role, it was necessary to examine it separately, eliminating the influence of other variables like hormones that could obscure its effects.

That’s why the researchers created two genetically modified male mouse strains capable of producing Xist: one predisposed to autoimmune symptoms akin to lupus and another that was resistant, serving as the control group.

After observing that female mice in the lupus-like strain were more susceptible to symptoms than their male counterparts, the team hypothesized that introducing Xist would elevate the disease incidence in males to match that of females.

So, during the study, the team integrated a modified version of the Xist gene into the DNA of male mice, which could be activated without silencing their sole X chromosome.

To induce autoimmune conditions, it was necessary to expose the mice predisposed to lupus to a particular chemical.

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