Last year, researchers from the Karolinska Institute and the Institute of Evolutionary Anthropology Max Planck (MPI EVA) found significant on chromosome 3 genetic risk factor for complications from SARS-CoV-2 infection. It is a gene that modern people inherited from the Neanderthals.
Now in the pages of “PNAS” the same scientists report that part of the human population on chromosome 12 carries a variant of the gene – also Neanderthal, the presence of which translates into a lower risk (by 20 percent) of the need for treatment in the intensive care unit.
This gene regulates the activity of an enzyme that destroys the genomes of viruses. The Neanderthal variant seems to do this more efficiently.
– This shows that our heritage from Neanderthals is a double-edged sword when it comes to responding to SARS-CoV2. They gave us variants of genes that we can both curse and thank – says Hugo Zeberg from the Karolinska Institute.
The study also showed that the prevalence of the protective variant increased after the last glaciation. About half of the world’s population carries it.
“It is striking that these Neanderthal genetic variants have become so common in different parts of the world. This suggests that they favored people in the past – points out Svante Pääbo, director of the MPI EVA.
It is also amazing that these two variants, inherited from the Neanderthals, affect the effects of COVID-19 in opposite ways. Their (Neanderthals – PAP) immune system apparently affects us both positively and negatively to this day. – the specialist suggests.
Today’s inhabitants of Europe and Asia have in their genome elements of material that they inherited from an extinct human species, the Neanderthals. These are traces of crosses between the two species that occurred several dozen thousand years ago. Children who were born as a result of mating Homo sapiens and Neanderthals, could be brought up among modern people, and later found themselves a couple from this group. As a result, subsequent generations have Neanderthal genes in their genetic material, although in ever greater “dilution”.
Traces of these past events can also be seen in the genomes of people living today, which translates, among others, into on their health. Scientists prove, for example, that people living in Eurasia with a genetic admixture of Neanderthals are relatively more HIV-1 resistant and staphylococcal infection. They are more likely to develop asthma, allergies and hay fever. Women who possess a variant of the Neanderthal gene are more fertile. Some of the Neanderthal genes in our genomes may be responsible for the pain threshold. Now it turns out lighter or more severe COVID-19 mileage it may also be related to what a person has inherited from that genetic lottery.
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