RNA-Seq Reveals Africans and Europeans have Different Immune Systems


from Aussie Network News by Donald Acosta –

A study in the journal Cell  found that people with European and African ancestries have different immune systems. This could partly be the result of interbreeding with Neanderthals.

“I was expecting to see ancestry-associated differences in immune response but not such a clear trend towards an overall stronger response to infection among individuals of African descent,” says senior author Luis Barreiro of the University of Montreal and the CHU Sainte-Justine in Canada.

The research team used RNA sequencing to see how the immune systems of 175 participants with African or European ancestry respond to a  bacteria or a virus attack. The team analyzed the immune cell known as primary macrophages and their responses to Listeria monocytogenes or Salmonella typhimurium.

They found that thousands of genes have different responses to infection. They also found that those with African ancestry have stronger inflammatory response that limited bacterial growth.

In the same journal, another study found that “population differences in transcriptional responses to immune activation are widespread, and that they are mainly accounted for by genetic variants that differ in their frequencies between human populations.”

The study’s lead researcher Lluis Quintana-Murci of Institut Pasteur and CNRS in Paris, France say they  used the same method as the other study but they focused on immune cells, known as primary monocytes. They recruited 200 participants with self-reported African or European ancestry.

“The genetic and molecular basis of ancestry-related differences in disease susceptibility has been a mystery,” Barreiro adds. “These results provide a first description of differences in immune response and associated genetic basis that might explain differences in susceptibility to disease between people of African and European ancestry. More generally, our results demonstrate how historical selective events continue to shape human phenotypic diversity today, including for traits that are key to controlling infection.”

The researchers of both studies say that further research is needed to understand how factors like the environment led to differences in immune systems of different races.

Source – Aussie Network News

See also – Institut Pasteur and CNRS in Paris Press Release

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