A longitudinal study of X-inactivation ratio in human females

Hum Genet. 2004 Oct;115(5):387-92. doi: 10.1007/s00439-004-1177-8. Epub 2004 Aug 28.


We investigated the effect of aging on X chromosome inactivation by performing a longitudinal study in a population of 178 normal females. We examined X-inactivation ratios (fraction of cells with the same X chromosome active) in two sets of peripheral blood DNA samples collected about two decades apart. We observed a strong correlation between the ratios of individual females at the two time points and found no significant difference between the two sets of measurements. These observations indicate that aging, per se (as opposed to being "aged"), has little effect on X-inactivation. However, we also found that several females who were older than 60 years of age at the time of the first measurement acquired significant changes in the X-inactivation ratio. We speculate that, if X-inactivation skewing is a frequently acquired trait in older females, it is acquired as the result of a discontinuous or catastrophic process and is not the result of constant selection for or against hematopoietic stem cells with a particular X chromosome active.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Aged
  • Aging*
  • Child
  • Dosage Compensation, Genetic*
  • Female
  • Genetic Linkage
  • Hematopoietic Stem Cells
  • Humans
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Middle Aged
  • Models, Genetic
  • Selection, Genetic