A Damaging Hand Disease Has Neanderthal Roots

Fascia, the fibrous connective tissue that holds the body together, is one of the unsung heroes of human anatomy. This sticky white substance — basically sheets of connective tissue held together with collagen — holds your muscles and organs together, making them a unified whole.

in the palm of your hand, Fascia An important job is to create an uneven surface for gripping. Without it, the skin slides over bones, muscles, and blood vessels, making it difficult, if not painful, to grab hold of anything.

The palmar fascia is an essential part of human life, but it can also limit it. In Dupuytren’s disease, the fascia slowly thickens and shrinks, forming nodules and eventually cords of tissue that pull the fingers inward, pinching them. In a recent scientific studywe may now know where the disease comes from.

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What is Dupuytren’s disease?

Neanderthal DNA is partly to blame for Dupuytren’s, which is heritable, according to new genetic analysis conducted at the Karolinska Institutet in Sweden.

This condition most commonly affects the ring and middle fingers, which extend from the center of the palmar fascia, curling them back into the palm.serious need surgery May improve range of motion But full recovery may not be possible.

Scientists have identified a long list of Risk Factors for Dupuytren: Males are more prone to the condition than females, and the condition affects not only people of Nordic descent, but also Scandinavians. Certain medical conditions, including diabetes and epilepsy, also increase a person’s risk, as does old age.

read more: New genetic analysis shows that everyone has Neanderthal DNA in their genome

Who can inherit Dupuytren’s disease?

The study used the genomes of 7,871 Dupuytren patients and found 61 genes associated with the disease, including three from Neanderthals. Of these, two stand out as the second and third most important factors in predicting Dupuytren.

Early Homo sapiens Mating with Neanderthals and another extinct species, Denisovans, the evidence is still there in part of our collective DNA, with some major exceptions. People from sub-Saharan Africa were barely influenced by Neanderthals, while genes from elsewhere contained about 2 percent of what was passed down from that species.

The disease is most common in northern Europe, where Neanderthal influence was evident. A study that followed Dupuytren for more than 60 years estimated that as many as 30 percent of Norwegians will develop the disease in their lifetime.

“This is a case of meeting a Neanderthal impacting a diseased population,” said Hugo Zeberg, lead author of the paper in the press release“though we shouldn’t exaggerate the connection between Neanderthals and Vikings.”

read more: How much Neanderthal DNA do humans have?

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