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Evolution in Health and Disease$
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Stephen C. Stearns and Jacob C. Koella

Print publication date: 2007

Print ISBN-13: 9780199207466

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: April 2010

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199207466.001.0001

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Functional significance of MHC variation in mate choice, reproductive outcome, and disease risk

Functional significance of MHC variation in mate choice, reproductive outcome, and disease risk

Chapter:
(p.95) Chapter 8 Functional significance of MHC variation in mate choice, reproductive outcome, and disease risk
Source:
Evolution in Health and Disease
Author(s):

Dagan A. Loisel

Susan C. Alberts

Carole Ober

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199207466.003.0008

This chapter surveys connections between the nervous system and the immune system, and suggests that their connections mediate many significant health outcomes. The nervous and immune systems are intimately connected by shared developmental, functional and biochemical pathways. The extraordinary diversity and remarkable evolution of MHC genes have been influenced by several distinct forces, including pathogen-mediated selection, and sexual and reproductive selection. MHC diversity influences the risk and progression of infectious, reproductive, autoimmune, and inflammatory diseases. MHC genes play a significant role in olfactory communication, behavior, and mate choice in vertebrates, including humans. The unique evolution of MHC genes contributed to the prevalence of autoimmune and inflammatory diseases in modern human populations.

Keywords:   nervous system, immune system, MHC genes, sexual selection, mate choice, autoimmune disease

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