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Am J Hum Genet. 1995 Nov;57(5):1143-50.

Sex chromosome loss and aging: in situ hybridization studies on human interphase nuclei.

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  • 1Institut für Humangenetik, Universität Würzburg, Germany.


A total of 1,000 lymphocyte interphase nuclei per proband from 90 females and 138 males age 1 wk to 93 years were analyzed by in situ hybridization for loss of the X and Y chromosomes, respectively. Both sex chromosomes showed an age-dependent loss. In males, Y hypoploidy was very low up to age 15 years (0.05%) but continuously increased to a frequency of 1.34% in men age 76-80 years. In females, the baseline level for X chromosome loss is much higher than that seen for the Y chromosome in males. Even prepubertal females show a rate of X chromosome loss, on the order of 1.5%-2.5%, rising to approximately 4.5%-5% in women older than 75 years. Dividing the female probands into three biological age groups on the basis of sex hormone function (< 13 years, 13-51 years, and > 51 years), a significant correlation of X chromosome loss versus age could clearly be demonstrated in women beyond age 51 years. Females age 51-91 years showed monosomy X at a rate from 3.2% to 5.1%. In contrast to sex chromosomal loss, the frequency of autosomal monosomies does not change during the course of aging: Chromosome 1 and chromosome 17 monosomic cells were found with a constant incidence of 1.2% and 1%, respectively. These data also indicate that autosome loss in interphase nuclei is not a function of chromosome size.

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