(ORDO NEWS) — Scientists from Germany and Sweden have learned that the risk of developing vascular disease and inflammatory bowel disease associated with oxidative stress is increased in people who carry the Neanderthal variant of the glutathione reductase protein.
One way to learn more about the unique characteristics of a person is to study the building blocks of the body, that is, proteins that are known to be responsible for almost all of its functions. In humans, there are about 100 proteins that carry the “imprint” of changes that occurred after the Homo sapiens lineage split from the Neanderthal lineage.
One of these proteins is called glutathione reductase, an enzyme that protects the body from oxidative stress. Almost all modern humans have an amino acid substitution (S23G) in this enzyme, unlike Neanderthals and primates.
Researchers from the Karolinska Institute (Sweden) and the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology (Germany) have studied in detail the change in glutathione reductase in humans during evolution. The results of their work are published in the journal Science Advances.
It turned out that the protein of the Neanderthals created a certain amount of active oxygen radicals, which are believed to be the cause of oxidative stress. This is the third protein change, unique to modern humans, that has been studied so far.
The new study also showed that the Neanderthal squirrel passed to contemporaries when our ancestors mingled with them about 60,000 years ago. Today, these proteins are found mainly in the Indian subcontinent, where India, Pakistan and Bangladesh are located.
Often it also includes Bhutan, Nepal and Sri Lanka, sometimes the Maldives and the southeastern part of Afghanistan. The frequency of distribution of the protein in question, according to scientists, is from one to two percent of the population.
These people are unlucky because they have a higher likelihood of developing vascular disease and inflammatory bowel disease, which are associated with oxidative stress. Moreover, in comparison with people who do not have this protein, the risk is increased several times.
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