Genes that cause heart disease have benefits! (or at least are selected for)

Genes that cause heart disease have benefits! (or at least are selected for)

Byars SG, Huang QQ, Gray L-A, Bakshi A, Ripatti S, Abraham G, et al. (2017) Genetic loci associated with coronary artery disease harbor evidence of selection and antagonistic pleiotropy. PLoS Genet 13(6): e1006328.  (Open access)

Author summary: How genetic variation contributes to disease is complex, especially for those such as coronary artery disease (CAD) that develop over the lifetime of individuals. One of the fundamental questions about CAD––whose progression begins in young adults with arterial plaque accumulation leading to life-threatening outcomes later in life––is why natural selection has not removed or reduced this costly disease. It is the leading cause of death worldwide and has been present in human populations for thousands of years, implying considerable pressures that natural selection should have operated on. Our study provides new evidence that genes underlying CAD have recently been modified by natural selection and that these same genes uniquely and extensively contribute to human reproduction, which suggests that natural selection may have maintained genetic variation contributing to CAD because of its beneficial effects on fitness. This study provides novel evidence that CAD has been maintained in modern humans as a by-product of the fitness advantages those genes provide early in human lifecycles.


Special Discount for ISEMPH meeting registration by June 30

Special Discount for ISEMPH meeting registration by June 30

An 80 Euro discount on meeting registration fees is available to readers of the EvMedReview who register by June 30 and use the code “ISEMPHFRIENDS” at checkout.

The 2017 IEMPH Meeting in Groningen, Netherlands, August 18-21 offers rare opportunity to hear great talks by the leaders in evolutionary medicine and have conversations with many who share common interests, including members of the European Society for Evolutionary Biology, that is holding its meeting in conjunction with ISEMPH.12 medical Accreditation credits are provided for meeting participants. 

Another bonus: Those attending either ESEB or ISEMPH are also eligible to submit a paper to Evolution, Medicine & Public Health without paying the usual $2000 author’s fees. Details here.

The full program for the ISEMPH meeting is posted here.

Please share this offer with friends, colleagues… and your doctor!



Evolution of the Human Immune Response

Evolution of the Human Immune Response

Living in an adaptive world: Genomic dissection of the genus Homo and its immune response
A Review Article by Hélène Quach and Lluis Quintana-Murci

in  The Journal of Experimental Medicine 214:877-894 (2017) (open access)

Commentary by Jon Laman

Two authors from Paris, France, provide a wonderfully concise and sophisticated overview on how evolution shaped our current immune response. Their review is a scientific and educational treasure trove, written in accessible form, and with 6 very instructive figures, box and table. For those from other fields, it is useful to point out that the Journal of Experimental Medicine is highly read and respected in the fields of hematology, immunology, and regenerative medicine. Hence, this article has high visibility bringing these evolutionary aspects to a large audience.

While discussing classic and recent exciting primary studies, this review also refreshes many basics (e.g. human migration across the globe in Figure 1, in its 2017 guise), and explains important concepts not always widely known (e.g. archaic introgression of Neanderthal sequences; regulatory variants of gene expression eQTL versus protein quantitative trait loci – pQTL).

Their Table 1, Some iconic cases of positive selection in the human genome will find its way to slides in many presentations.

It is worthwhile that in addition to the strong emphasis on genetics driving quality and intensity of the immune response, the authors state on page 887 that “a large fraction of the variation in immune responses cannot be attributed to genetic factors”. They cite papers demonstrating roles of age and gender, annual seasonality, social environment, and gut microbiota composition.

In the last section the authors emphasize the role of environmental and cultural factors promoting transmission of advantageous or negative immune traits across generations, such as access to medical care, smoking, diet, and mate choice.

This concise review is also an excellent teaching resource. For instance, together with a review on evolutionary molecular medicine (Nesse, Ganten, Gregory and Omenn, 2012) and a glossary of evolutionary terms (INSERT LINK TO MY PDF HERE), a very doable starter package can be compiled for (medical) students as well as for more advanced audiences.

Instant classroom-flipping assignments are to have participants present 1-4 slide Powerpoints of five minutes to explain to peers the items covered in the figures of this review. For instance Figure 3, Natural selection and archaic introgression affect human genome diversity, provides good level conceptual and technical challenges for student didactic skills.

In conclusion, the two authors are to be highly commended on this useful paper. One would hope to see updates regularly of the same high quality, in view of the rapid advances in this field.


Jon Laman
Prof. Dr. Jon D. Laman
Professor of Immune Physiology
Head Department of Neuroscience
University Medical Center Groningen
PO Box 196, 9700 AD Groningen, The Netherlands

Additional (teaching) materials;
Evolutionary molecular medicine.

Nesse RM, Ganten D, Gregory TR, Omenn GS.
J Mol Med (Berl). 2012, 90:509-22. doi: 10.1007/s00109-012-0889-9. Review.

Jon Laman Glossary of evolutionary terms 2017
(A pdf valuable for teaching and learning.) 

ISEMPH and ESEB Meeting Registrants can submit to EMPH with no author’s fees

ISEMPH and ESEB Meeting Registrants can submit to EMPH with no author’s fees

A Special offer from Evolution, Medicine, and Public Health and Oxford University Press 

In honor of the 2017 meeting of the International Society of Evolution, Medicine, & Public Health and the 2017 Congress of the European Society for Evolutionary Biology, Oxford University Press is pleased to extend a special offer to all ISEMPH and ESEB attendees.

For a limited time only, we are waiving author fees for research submitted to ISEMPH’s open access flagship journal Evolution, Medicine, and Public Health.
Submit an article to the journal as corresponding author during August or September 2017 and take advantage of free publication.

Evolution, Medicine, and Public Health is an open access journal that publishes original, rigorous applications of evolutionary science to issues in medicine and public health. It aims to connect evolutionary biology with the health sciences to produce insights that may reduce suffering and save lives.

  • Fast first decision and rapid publication times
  • High-quality and constructive peer review
  • Discoverable in PubMed and deposited in PMC
  • Compliant with NIH, HHMI, Wellcome and RCUK public access policies
  • Automatic consideration for the annual $5,000 George C. Williams Prize, awarded to the author of the most significant article published in the preceding year

Browse the journal’s Information for Authors or submit your research now.

Members of the International Society for Evolution, Medicine, & Public Health receive a $1000 discount on publication fees for articles published in EMPH. Become an ISEMPH member and benefit from deeply discounted rates at any time!

Special offer from EMPH for ISEMPH and ESEB meeting registrants

Special offer from EMPH for ISEMPH and ESEB meeting registrants

Evolution, Medicine, & Public Health, the Oxford University Press flagship journal of ISEMPH, has announced a special opportunity. Author’s fees are waived for those registered for the annual ISEMPH meeting or the ESEB meeting who submit an article as corresponding author during August or September. Registration for the August 18-25 meetings in the Netherlands continues until July 1, but hotel rooms are going fast.

The Editor, Charles Nunn, is glad to hear about proposed articles anytime, but only submissions during the month of the meetings and the subsequent month are eligble for this offer. ISEMPH members get a subtanntial discount on author’s fees at any time.

If you are not already signed up for alerts about new publications in EMPH, sign up here.