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Why Women are More Susceptible to Autoimmune Diseases: Stanford Researchers Discover Mechanism on X Chromosome

Women are more frequently affected by autoimmune diseases

Why Women are More Susceptible to Autoimmune Diseases: Stanford Researchers Discover Mechanism on X Chromosome

Researchers at Stanford University have identified a mechanism on the X chromosome that may explain why women are more susceptible to autoimmune attacks. The X chromosome in women is partially silenced in most cells to prevent an overproduction of proteins, but this silencing may contribute to autoimmune diseases. By studying mice with altered xist protein strands, researchers found that these mice were more severely affected by autoimmune disease, suggesting a link between the X chromosome and autoimmune susceptibility in humans.

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Autoimmune diseases affect about one in five people, including conditions like type 1 diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis, inflammatory bowel disease, and thyroiditis. These diseases occur when the immune system mistakenly attacks the body’s own tissues, leading to inflammation and tissue damage. The prevalence of autoimmune diseases has been increasing in the 21st century due to better diagnostics and changes in lifestyle and environment. These diseases often affect women more than men, with up to 80 percent of those affected being female.

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