Lupus not identical in twins | Science News


Help us keep you informed.

Real Science. Real News.


Lupus not identical in twins

Pattern of chemical tags on DNA linked to the autoimmune disease

6:33pm, December 21, 2009

Lupus can tell identical twins apart by the distinguishing marks the pairs carry on their DNA.

Fewer DNA methylation marks may leave one twin vulnerable to the inflammatory autoimmune disease, even while the other sibling remains healthy, a new study appearing online December 22 in Genome Research shows.

The finding suggests that environmental factors determine whether genetically susceptible twins will contract lupus, or systemic lupus erythematosus, which is characterized by the immune system attacking the body’s own cells.

Researchers have previously identified at least 17 different genes involved in lupus. If genes alone were responsible for determining whether a person gets lupus, then every time one identical twin got the disease, the other should too.

But that doesn’t happen. Between 40 percent and 75 percent of the time, when one twin develops lupus the other stays healthy, indicating that some environmental facto

This article is only available to Science News subscribers. Already a subscriber? Log in now. Or subscribe today for full access.

Get Science News headlines by e-mail.

More from Science News

From the Nature Index Paid Content