UCLA Logo Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) is an autoimmune disease that may commonly affect women. UCLA scientists have apparently discovered a variation in a gene on the sex chromosome X that boosts an immune response leading to lupus in men. It was elucidated that genes can be found along with chromosomes. Scientists found that the variation occurred in a gene on the X, or female, chromosome, yet its influence was stronger in men than in women.

The two sex chromosomes X and Y present in men and two Xs found in women apparently display genetic variations on the X chromosome to play a role in the development of lupus. In the process of the study, investigators discovered certain variations of DNA sequences within a specific X-linked gene. It is believed that this gene causes a stronger response in the immune system and elevates the chances of developing lupus, especially in men.

9,274 Eastern Asians individuals including those with lupus and healthy controls were genotyped by the investigators. The result was that men reported stronger genetic effects than women, especially in Chinese and Japanese men. The study authors will be further investigating other ethnicities also. The investigations may provide a more detailed insight on the development of lupus and help inspect the sex-specific genetic contributions of the disease further resulting in the introduction of more targeted therapies.

The study was published in the August 23 online edition of the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).