Four out of ten men can “lose” the Y chromosome-

from Antonella Sparvoli

It can occur after the age of 70 in some blood cells, affecting longevity and heart health. Therapy is being studied

Even our DNA feels the weight of the years. In men it may even happen that some blood cells lose the Y chromosomewith numerous consequences, from he lived a little longer to a series heart problems. This was reported by a study coordinated by researchers from the Berne Cardiovascular Research Center of the University of Virginia, recently published in Science. Scholars have shown that the loss of the Y chromosome from white blood cells, due to the so-called mLOY (mosaic Loss Of Y chromosome), can damage heart tissue and cause fibrosis, i.e. the formation of scars that stiffen the heart muscle and are associated with a decrease in heart function.

The loss of the Y chromosome

Women have two X chromosomes, while men have an X and a Y. It is estimated for up to four out of ten men after the age of 70 experience a loss of the latter in part of their cells, a condition that has been associated with shorter longevity and an increased risk of aging-related diseases, such as cancer and Alzheimer’s disease. Now the new study has found that this phenomenon can also compromise heart function. To try to understand the mechanisms involved, the researchers used the Crispr genetic engineering technique (the so-called molecular DNA scissors) in mice without Y chromosomes in their white blood cells to simulate the human condition of mLOY and then analyzed the data from the Biobank of the United Kingdom, a huge database that collects genetic and health information from around half a million adults. The formation of scar tissue in the heart Researchers have seen that the loss of the Y chromosome accelerates age-related diseases, making mice more prone to premature death, aided by a complex series of immune system reactions that lead to the abnormal formation of fibrous scar tissue in the heart and other organs, including the kidneys and lungs. The analysis of the biobank data confirmed what was observed in the mice: men in whom a loss of the Y chromosome was observed had, after an average of 11 years, an increased risk of dying from heart failure or other cardiovascular diseases compared to men without this problem. This observation is in line with what was observed in the animal model and suggests that mLOY has direct physiological effects in humans as well, observes geneticist Lars Forsberg from Uppsala University, one of the creators of the study.

The possible cure

The authors of the study did not limit themselves to studying the mechanisms and consequences of the loss of the Y chromosome, which among other things could help explain why women on average live longer than their partners, but also identified a possible therapy to limit the damage of fibrosis, although for now it is still a distant prospect. It is a drug, pirfenidone, already approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (Fda) for the treatment of idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis, a disease characterized by the formation of fibrotic tissue in the lungs that leads to a progressive decline in their functionality. Currently the drug is also being tested for heart failure and chronic kidney disease. While waiting for new data to map the direct consequences of the loss of the Y chromosome in humans, there is one thing men can do to live longer: quit smoking. Research has shown, among other things, that men who smoke are three times more likely than nonsmokers to experience a loss of the Y chromosome in their white blood cells.

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July 19, 2022 (change July 19, 2022 | 10:44)



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