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Ancient DNA may help solve the mystery of multiple sclerosis in Europe

Ancient DNA may help solve the mystery of multiple sclerosis in Europe

Secrets of our ancestors may hold the key to why multiple sclerosis (MS) is more common among whites in northern Europe than in southern Europe. Although scientists have so far discovered hundreds of genes linked to the disease, up to a fifth of the Northern European population carries the genetic variant that triples the risk of autoimmune disease. Where this version came from and why it survived and spread remains a mystery.

They carried their genes with them

An international team of researchers, led by William Parry from the University of Cambridge, now believes it has found new evidence about the European variant of MS. Barry and his colleagues combined dozens of newly sequenced medieval and post-medieval Danish genomes with a database of ancient sequences to create a database representing tens of thousands of years of human history in Eurasia. Among these

She found “surprising patterns” in the genetic variants associated with MS today.

Experts returned to track the spread of the variants over time, and it appears that the genes originated in the Eastern European region, which includes present-day Ukraine, southwestern Russia, and western Kazakhstan. They stated: About five thousand years ago, the pastoralists living in this region migrated west to northern Europe and “brought their genes with them.”

Multiple sclerosis is caused by the body's immune system mistakenly attacking itselfSource: Agence France-Presse/Michel Constantini

Wherever they end up, disease-associated variants appear to have fallen victim to “positive selection,” suggesting that despite their recent association with neurocognitive decline, they were once of survival value.
This means that we can now understand and treat multiple sclerosis as a result of genetic adaptation to certain environmental conditions that occurred in prehistoric times. said Lars Fugger, a neuroimmunologist at the University of Oxford Science Alert Online scientific portal. Multiple sclerosis is caused by the body's immune system mistakenly attacking itself, and although this can have devastating consequences, an overactive immune system can theoretically protect against pathogens and epidemics.

However, all of this would have been an advantage for ancient humans, especially when they raised animals and settled in dense populations where diseases could spread more easily.

Affects the risk of modern diseases

When the researchers compared the data with about 410,000 contemporary human genomes in the UK Biobank, they found that The HLA-DRB1*15:01 variant frequency is “highest in contemporary Finnish, Swedish and Icelandic populations, And also in ancient populations with a high proportion of steppe ancestors.” They were shocked by these results.

Multiple sclerosis (MS) is more common in whites in northern Europe than in southern EuropeSource: Agence France-Presse

It is a major step forward in understanding the development of multiple sclerosis and other autoimmune diseases – The experts explained. Showing how our ancestors' lifestyle influenced the risk of modern-day diseases highlights the extent to which we are carriers of our ancestors' immune systems in the modern world.

the nature The results of a study published in a scientific journal reveal the reasons behind Europe's north-south gradient and point to a possible evolutionary advantage that…

MS risk variants may have been present in the post-hunter-gatherer era.

However, experts say more research is needed to confirm the suspected link between infectious diseases and the risk of developing multiple sclerosis.

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