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J Theor Biol. 1997 Apr 7;185(3):373-8.

H-Y antigen and homosexuality in men.

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  • 1Department of Psychiatry, University of Toronto, Ontario, Canada.


In men, sexual orientation correlates with the number of older brothers, each additional older brother increasing the odds of homosexuality by approximately 33%. It is hypothesized that this fraternal birth order effect reflects the progressive immunization of some mothers to Y-linked minor histocompatibility antigens (H-Y antigen) by each succeeding male fetus, and the concomitantly increasing effects of H-Y antibodies on the sexual differentiation of the brain in each succeeding male fetus. This hypothesis is consistent with a variety of evidence, including the apparent irrelevance of older sisters to the sexual orientation of later-born males, the probable involvement of H-Y antigen in the development of sex-typical traits, and the detrimental effects of immunization of female mice to H-Y antigen on the reproductive performance of subsequent male offspring.

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