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Keywords:

  • Adaptation;
  • Autoimmune diseases;
  • Whites;
  • Race;
  • Racial differences;
  • Cancer;
  • Leiomyosarcoma;
  • Kaposi's sarcoma;
  • Multiple myeloma;
  • Neurofibrosarcoma;
  • Dermatofibrosarcoma;
  • Malignant neurolemoma;
  • Scleroderma;
  • Sarcoidosis;
  • Systemic lupus erythematosus;
  • Keloids

Abstract

Additional information is presented in support of the hypothesis (Polednak: Am. J. Phys. Anthropol, 41:49–58, 1974) that in some black populations certain connective-tissue responses, which are involved in protection against infection and repair after injury, also may predispose to specific chronic diseases. These diseases include some autoimmune disorders (i.e., systemic lupus erythematosus, sarcoidosis, and scleroderma) and various benign and malignant tumors involving connective-tissue cells. Complex interactions between genetic factors (HLA and non-HLA loci) and environmental agents may be involved both in the etiology of these autoimmune diseases and in population differences in the incidence of these diseases. A framework is reviewed whereby cellular responses to infectious agents, involving chiefly immunoglobulin-producing cells and macrophages, may have consequences in terms of pathogenesis of specific chronic diseases more common in some black populations. The possible role of natural selection in maintaining some of these diseases is also considered, along with the need for involvement of biomedical anthropologists in their investigation.