Scientists have shown for the first time that a deficiency of the Y chromosome can cause heart damage.

Age-related loss of the Y-chromosome — the part of human DNA unique to males — increases men’s risk of potentially fatal heart problems as they age, new research suggests.

The discovery, detailed in the journal Science, paves the way for a simple test to identify men whose Y-chromosome counts put them at higher risk of conditions such as heart failure, in which a diseased heart surrounds the body. Blood struggles to pump.

Humans have two sex chromosomes, X and Y. Males usually have one of each, while females have two X-chromosomes.

Scientists have known for decades that some men begin to lose Y-chromosomes from their cells as they age.

Age-Related Loss Of The Y-Chromosome -- The Part Of Human Dna Unique To Males -- Increases Men'S Risk Of Potentially Life-Threatening Heart Problems As They Age, New Research Suggests.

Age-related loss of the Y-chromosome — the part of human DNA unique to males — increases men’s risk of potentially fatal heart problems as they age, new research suggests.

For example, a previous study of thousands of men in the UK found that about a fifth of men between the ages of 40 and 70 had missing chromosomes. This phenomenon, known as Y-loss, has been linked to a variety of health conditions including cancer, cardiovascular disease and Alzheimer’s disease, as well as a shorter lifespan.

However, scientists were unable to determine whether the loss of the Y-chromosome is directly causing the disease or, like wrinkles or gray hair, is simply a sign of aging.

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Now, for the first time, scientists have shown that a lack of Y chromosome can damage the heart. (Women also experience loss of their sex chromosomes, but this is not associated with younger age and disease.)

Scientists from the University of Virginia in the US and Uppsala University in Sweden were the first to prove the link in mice.

They showed that the white blood cells of mice lacking the Y-chromosome (the lack of a Y-chromosome is easiest to measure in white blood cells) died earlier than the mice that still had the Y-chromosome. were

Mice short on the Y-chromosome also developed more fibrosis — or thickening — of their heart muscle. This thickening hardens the heart and makes it harder for it to pump blood.

The researchers then went to the people and looked at medical and genetic information on more than 223,000 men who gave blood samples to the UK Biobank, a large health database.

They found that men who had more than 40 percent of their white blood cells missing the Y-chromosome were 31 percent more likely to die of heart disease, including heart failure, over the next 12 years than those who did not. Those who didn’t have it. Y-loss.

The researchers concluded that, together, these findings suggest that Y-loss contributes to myocardial fibrosis, cardiac dysfunction and mortality in men.

They hypothesize that the lack of a Y-chromosome affects the way some heart cells work, leading to fibrosis and heart disease.

Professor Kenneth Walsh, who led the research, told Good Health: ‘As we age, one of the things that happens is that we develop fibrosis in various tissues and organs, including the heart, kidneys and lungs. are And this process is accelerated by the loss of the Y-chromosome.’

However, the rate of Y-chromosome loss varies. ‘Some men lose it very quickly – they are extreme losers – but others don’t, and we still don’t understand why,’ says Professor Walsh.

In the future, testing for Y-chromosome loss may lead to the identification of ‘super-losers’.

‘If you’re one of those men who’s losing a lot of their Y-chromosome, it might be an indication to see a specialist who’ll do a cardiac MRI to measure the extent of fibrosis,’ says Professor Walsh. can scan,’ says Professor Walsh.

Although there is currently no cure for cardiac fibrosis, scientists are working on new drugs to reverse the damage.

Professor John Parry, a geneticist at the University of Cambridge who has studied Y-loss, said the findings were interesting but urged men not to worry: ‘It’s more likely to be heart than other factors. There is a very small risk for disease. Important ones, such as blood pressure, weight and ‘bad’ LDL cholesterol.

‘These other factors are modifiable, whereas you can’t really do anything about Y-loss,’ he says.

‘The only thing for which there is modest evidence is that the rate of Y-loss may be somewhat reduced if you smoke and stop smoking.’

Dr Mikhail Spivakov, a geneticist at Imperial College London, says: ‘The ultimate hope here is that we can deal with the loss of Y, that we can neutralize the effects of the loss of Y and result in a healthier population. Can get hearts.’