These results provide some support for an association between genetic diversity and a measure of general, everyday health in humans. We found a small, but significant, effect of nonMHC genetic diversity, measured as standardized mean-d2, on health. Individuals with greater nonMHC-d2 reported significantly fewer symptoms over a four-month period than less diverse individuals, with nonMHC-d2 accounting for 3% of the variance in health. This relationship suggests that the previously observed male preferences for the faces of females with high levels of nonMHC-d2 would be adaptive for obtaining a healthier mate .PLoS ONE doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0006391
Does Genetic Diversity Predict Health in Humans?
Hanne C. Lie et al.
Genetic diversity, especially at genes important for immune functioning within the Major Histocompatibility Complex (MHC), has been associated with fitness-related traits, including disease resistance, in many species. Recently, genetic diversity has been associated with mate preferences in humans. Here we asked whether these preferences are adaptive in terms of obtaining healthier mates. We investigated whether genetic diversity (heterozygosity and standardized mean d2) at MHC and nonMHC microsatellite loci, predicted health in 153 individuals. Individuals with greater allelic diversity (d2) at nonMHC loci and at one MHC locus, linked to HLA-DRB1, reported fewer symptoms over a four-month period than individuals with lower d2. In contrast, there were no associations between MHC or nonMHC heterozygosity and health. NonMHC-d2 has previously been found to predict male preferences for female faces. Thus, the current findings suggest that nonMHC diversity may play a role in both natural and sexual selection acting on human populations.