Inheritance & Variation of Traits, Inheritance 1: Behavior and Reproduction (MS), Inheritance 2: Genes and Growth (MS), Inheritance 2: Role of DNA (HS), Inheritance 4: Population Genetics (HS), Life Science, S&F 1: DNA to Proteins (HS), S&F 2: Body Systems (HS), S&F 3: Body Systems (MS), Structure and Function

Variation in the human immune system is largely driven by non-heritable influences

Variation in the human immune system is largely driven by non-heritable influences

SUMMARY: This study was a twin study (identical twin). The researchers looked at different elements of the immune system: T-cells, NK cells, B-cells, cytokines, etc. and saw that the development of these cells were influenced by non-heritable factors such as the environment and random epigenetic changes. These immune cells would have different responses towards pathogens/antigens, thus changing the way one twin reacted to disease or vaccination versus the other. Over time, the twins’ immune systems shared less and less similarities. Researchers concluded that during early childhood (before 5 years old), heritable factors determined if someone survived, but once past that age, the environment and life choices had a greater influence on immune system development.

LESSON COMMENTS: Topics that this paper covers are: cells of the immune system specifically T-cells, antibodies, serum protein, cytokines, chemokines, epigenetics, methylated DNA, innate/adaptive immune system and their respective responses to pathogens/antigens. The conclusion of this article can be related to articles on the influence the gut microbiota has on the immune system and brain development. How does using antibiotics further change the immune system?

Brodin, P., Jojic, V., Gao, T., Bhattacharya, S., Angel, C. J., Furman, D., Shen-Orr, S., Dekker, C. L., Swan, G. E., Butte, A. J., Maecker, H. T., … Davis, M. M. (2015). Variation in the human immune system is largely driven by non-heritable influences. Cell, 160(1-2), 37-47.