Navigation Links
Living longer - variability in infection-fighting genes can be a boon for male survival
Date:5/11/2012

Females of mammals (including humans) tend to outlive males, a circumstance that is usually attributed to males more aggressive and hence energy-depleting behaviour, especially when they compete for females. This might also explain why males of many species usually show a higher parasite burden than females. Therefore, high variability of immune genes, supposed to reduce susceptibility to pathogens, may be more important for males. Scientists at the Research Institute of Wildlife Ecology (FIWI) of the University of Veterinary Medicine, Vienna have now found that male Alpine chamois heterozygous at a particular immune gene locus (i.e. who possess two different forms of that gene) indeed survive significantly longer than homozygous individuals (i.e. those with two identical copies of the gene) but they found no such effect for female chamois. The results are published in the current issue of the international journal BMC Evolutionary Biology (BMC Evolutionary Biology 2012, 12:20).

A heavy price to pay for love

It comes as no surprise to learn that males devote considerable efforts in wooing females. To understand just how costly their exertions are, Helmut Schaschl, Franz Suchentrunk, David L. Morris, Hichem Ben Slimen, Steve Smith, and Walter Arnold have undertaken a long-term study of survival patterns and their possible immune genetic basis in free-living populations of Alpine chamois (Rupicapra rupicapra).

Alpine chamois may live for 16 to 20 years in the wild, although male survival may decrease appreciably after the age of 11. This was the case in areas affected by scabies, a highly contagious disease that occurs in regular waves across large parts of the Eastern Alps. In these populations, reproductively active males have a higher death rate than females and younger males, presumably because the energetic challenge of the winter rut renders them more susceptible to the disease. "We found that the older chamois males depleted their body fat stores at the end of the harsh alpine winter about six weeks before females and younger males", says Walter Arnold, one of the authors. "With lower body fat reserves they have less energy to put into their immune systems. This might explain why the genetic component of immune defence is more important for males than for females".

Genetic diversity to the rescue

The scientists looked for features of the immune genes supposed to reduce susceptibility to pathogens. They analysed the variability (i.e. homo- vs. heterozygosity) of a gene of the major histocompatibility complex (MHC), which has an important role in recognizing infectious agents. In areas affected by scabies, the proportion of males heterozygous at that MHC gene increased with age, suggesting higher mortality of homozygous individuals. There was no such trend among females. Importantly, the survival of male chamois did not appear to be related to heterozygosity in general but only to the heterozygosity of the MHC gene. This makes sense, as different immune gene variants within an individual potentially recognise a broader spectrum of pathogens and thus confer an enhanced immunity on the animal. "Apparently, the higher energy expenditure of rutting males only becomes a problem when their immune system is heavily challenged. In this situation the males with heterozygous immune genes seem to have a distinct survival advantage," explains Arnold. The research results thus point to a sex-specific fitness benefit of the variability of MHC genes.


'/>"/>
Contact: Prof. Walter Arnold
walter.arnold@vetmeduni.ac.at
43-148-909-15100
University of Veterinary Medicine -- Vienna
Source:Eurekalert

Related medicine news :

1. Heart attack survivors living close to highways face higher 10-year death risk
2. Living Near Major Roads May Shorten Heart Attack Survival
3. White Women Make Up Bulk of Assisted-Living Residents
4. Many Americans Ambivalent Over Laws Aimed at Healthy Living
5. Living to 100 May Be Tougher Than You Think
6. 4.5 million Americans living with total knee replacement
7. Odds of living a very long life lower than formerly predicted
8. Living Together May Be Mentally Healthier Than Marriage: Study
9. Americans Living Longer, Report Finds
10. Nanometer-scale growth of cone cells tracked in living human eye
11. More Americans Living to 90, U.S. Census Finds
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
(Date:6/26/2016)... ... 2016 , ... Brent Kasmer, a legally blind and certified personal trainer is helping to develop ... The fitness app plans to fix the two major problems leading the fitness industry today:, ... all type program , They don’t eliminate all the reasons people quit their ...
(Date:6/25/2016)... Austin, TX (PRWEB) , ... June 25, 2016 , ... ... Fellow of the American College of Mohs Surgery and to Dr. Russell Peckham for ... popular and highly effective treatment for skin cancer. The selective fellowship in Mohs Micrographic ...
(Date:6/25/2016)... ... June 25, 2016 , ... First Choice Emergency Room ... Dr. Sesan Ogunleye, as the Medical Director of its new Mesquite-Samuell Farm facility. ... of our new Mesquite location,” said Dr. James M. Muzzarelli, Executive Medical Director of ...
(Date:6/25/2016)... , ... June 25, 2016 , ... On Friday, June ... a Bronze Wellness at Work award to iHire in recognition of their exemplary accomplishments ... of the 7th annual Maryland Workplace Health & Wellness Symposium at the BWI Marriott ...
(Date:6/24/2016)... ... June 24, 2016 , ... Those who have experienced traumatic events ... turn to unhealthy avenues, such as drug or alcohol abuse, as a coping mechanism. ... tools for healthy coping following a traumatic event. , Trauma sufferers tend to feel ...
Breaking Medicine News(10 mins):
(Date:6/26/2016)... 26, 2016 Story Highlights: ... models within the health care industry is causing providers ... , Deloitte offers a suite of solutions for ... impacting efficient cost optimization: labor resource analysis, revenue cycle ... facilitate better outcomes and better economics ...
(Date:6/24/2016)... 24, 2016 ... the addition of the " Global Markets for ... This report focuses on ... updated review, including its applications in various applications. The ... which includes three main industries: pharmaceutical and biotechnology, food ...
(Date:6/24/2016)... Research and Markets has announced the addition of ... report to their offering. ... The World Market for Companion Diagnostics covers the world market ... the report includes the following: , World ... Region (N. America, EU, ROW), 2015-2020 , World IVD ...
Breaking Medicine Technology: