Scientists at the University of Virginia School of Medicine found that the loss of a male chromosome as we age is associated with scarring of the heart muscle and can contribute to fatal heart failure. This is reported in an article published in the journal Science.
It is known that many men in old age (about 40 percent at the age of 70 years) lose the Y chromosome, which occurs mainly in blood cells. Smokers are especially susceptible to this. Research shows that chromosome loss leads to premature death and age-related diseases such as Alzheimer's.
In the new work, the scientists used CRISPR gene-editing technology to develop a mouse model to uncover details about the consequences of Y-chromosome loss. They found that this course of events accelerated the development of age-related diseases and made the mice more prone to developing scar tissue on the heart. The cause of fibrosis was a complex chain of reactions of the immune system.
The results show that reversing the effects of Y-chromosome loss can help men live longer, healthier lives. The scientists note that one possible treatment option could be the drug pirfenidone, which has already been approved by the US Food and Drug Administration for the treatment of idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis, a form of lung scarring.