Gene variants responsible for increasing our risk of developing rheumatoid arthritis and other inflammatory conditions have been the target of natural selection throughout the history of man. According to study results published in the April 4, 2013 issue of the American Journal of Human Genetics, researchers from Brigham and Women's Hospital looked at data that included genome-wide association studies and protein-protein interaction networks. The data revealed 21 places in the genome that have a correlation to both inflammatory disease susceptibility and natural selection.
According to researchers, in the past, the gene variants became more frequent in the human population to protect us from viruses, bacteria, and other pathogens. But, over time, our exposure to pathogens has changed. Consequently, gene variants that once protected us now make an autoimmune reaction more likely to occur.
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