Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


Initial genetic analysis reveals Ötzi predisposed to cardiovascular disease

Roughly eighteen months ago, a team of scientists succeeded in decoding the full genome of Ötzi, the mummified Iceman, revealing his entire genetic make-up.

Thus the course was set for solving further mysteries surrounding the world’s oldest glacier mummy. And now the next milestone has been reached: researchers from the Institute for Mummies and the Iceman at the European Academy of Bolzano/Bozen (EURAC), and from the Institutes for Human Genetics at the University of Tübingen and Saarland University have analysed various aspects of the raw data gained from the DNA sequencing. Their findings have now been published in the scientific magazine “Nature Communications”.

The new reconstruction of the Iceman as presented in the South Tyrolean Archaeology Museum showing the Iceman with brown eyes based on the genetic analysis. © South Tyrol Museum of Archaeology, Foto Ochsenreiter

Ötzi was genetically predisposed to cardiovascular diseases, according to recent studies carried out by the team of scientists working with Albert Zink and Angela Graefen from Bolzano’s EURAC Institute for Mummies and the Iceman, Carsten Pusch and Nikolaus Blin from the Institute for Human Genetics at the University of Tübingen, along with Andreas Keller and Eckart Meese from the Institute of Human Genetics at Saarland University.

Not only was this genetic predisposition demonstrable in the 5,000-year-old ice mummy, there was also already a symptom in the form of arteriosclerosis, or hardening of the arteries. And yet, in his lifetime, Ötzi was not exposed to the risk factors which we consider today to be the significant triggers of cardiovascular disease. He was not overweight and no stranger to exercise.

“The evidence that such a genetic predisposition already existed in Ötzi’s lifetime is of huge interest to us. It indicates that cardiovascular disease is by no means an illness chiefly associated with modern lifestyles. We are now eager to use these data to help us explore further how these diseases developed” says anthropologist Albert Zink with bioinformatics expert Andreas Keller.

Apart from this genetic predisposition, the scientists were able to identify traces of bacteria from the genus Borrelia, which are responsible for causing infections and are transmitted by ticks. Carsten Pusch, who led the genetic investigations in Tübingen, comments: “This is the oldest evidence for borreliosis (Lyme disease) and proof that this infection was already present 5,000 years ago.”

One further aspect which particularly interested the scientists was the Iceman’s genetic. They found that Ötzi belonged to a particular so-called Y-chromosome haplogroup which is relatively rare in present-day Europe. The findings indicate that Ötzi’s ancestors had migrated from the Middle East as agriculture and cattle-breeding became more widespread. Their genetic heritage is most common today in geographically isolated areas and islands such as on Sardinia and Corsica.

The genetic investigations also revealed a wealth of further information facts about the physical appearance of the Iceman: he had brown eyes, brown hair, and suffered from lactose intolerance which meant he could not digest milk products. This finding supports the theory that, despite the increasing spread of agriculture and dairying, lactose intolerance was still common in Ötzi’s lifetime. The ability to digest milk throughout adulthood developed steadily over the next millennia alongside the domestication of animals.

The full genome sequencing was supported by the National Geographic Society (USA), by Life Technologies (USA) and Comprehensive Biomarker Center (Germany).

Laura Defranceschi | idw
Further information:

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht When fat cells change their colour
28.10.2016 | Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg im Breisgau

nachricht Aquaculture: Clear Water Thanks to Cork
28.10.2016 | Technologie Lizenz-Büro (TLB) der Baden-Württembergischen Hochschulen GmbH

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Novel light sources made of 2D materials

Physicists from the University of Würzburg have designed a light source that emits photon pairs. Two-photon sources are particularly well suited for tap-proof data encryption. The experiment's key ingredients: a semiconductor crystal and some sticky tape.

So-called monolayers are at the heart of the research activities. These "super materials" (as the prestigious science magazine "Nature" puts it) have been...

Im Focus: Etching Microstructures with Lasers

Ultrafast lasers have introduced new possibilities in engraving ultrafine structures, and scientists are now also investigating how to use them to etch microstructures into thin glass. There are possible applications in analytics (lab on a chip) and especially in electronics and the consumer sector, where great interest has been shown.

This new method was born of a surprising phenomenon: irradiating glass in a particular way with an ultrafast laser has the effect of making the glass up to a...

Im Focus: Light-driven atomic rotations excite magnetic waves

Terahertz excitation of selected crystal vibrations leads to an effective magnetic field that drives coherent spin motion

Controlling functional properties by light is one of the grand goals in modern condensed matter physics and materials science. A new study now demonstrates how...

Im Focus: New 3-D wiring technique brings scalable quantum computers closer to reality

Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.

"The quantum socket is a wiring method that uses three-dimensional wires based on spring-loaded pins to address individual qubits," said Jeremy Béjanin, a PhD...

Im Focus: Scientists develop a semiconductor nanocomposite material that moves in response to light

In a paper in Scientific Reports, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute describes a novel light-activated phenomenon that could become the basis for applications as diverse as microscopic robotic grippers and more efficient solar cells.

A research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has developed a revolutionary, light-activated semiconductor nanocomposite material that can be used...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

Agricultural Trade Developments and Potentials in Central Asia and the South Caucasus

14.10.2016 | Event News

World Health Summit – Day Three: A Call to Action

12.10.2016 | Event News

Latest News

Prototype device for measuring graphene-based electromagnetic radiation created

28.10.2016 | Power and Electrical Engineering

Gamma ray camera offers new view on ultra-high energy electrons in plasma

28.10.2016 | Physics and Astronomy

When fat cells change their colour

28.10.2016 | Life Sciences

More VideoLinks >>>