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Diametrical diseases reflect evolutionary-genetic tradeoffs: Evidence from psychiatry, neurology, rheumatology, oncology and immunology.

Review article
Crespi BJ, et al. Evol Med Public Health. 2015.


Tradeoffs centrally mediate the expression of human adaptations. We propose that tradeoffs also influence the prevalence and forms of human maladaptation manifest in disease. By this logic, increased risk for one set of diseases commonly engenders decreased risk for another, diametric, set of diseases. We describe evidence for such diametric sets of diseases from epidemiological, genetic and molecular studies in four clinical domains: (i) psychiatry (autism vs psychotic-affective conditions), (ii) rheumatology (osteoarthritis vs osteoporosis), (iii) oncology and neurology (cancer vs neurodegenerative disorders) and (iv) immunology (autoimmunity vs infectious disease). Diametric disorders are important to recognize because genotypes or environmental factors that increase risk for one set of disorders protect from opposite disorders, thereby providing novel and direct insights into disease causes, prevention and therapy. Ascertaining the mechanisms that underlie disease-related tradeoffs should also indicate means of circumventing or alleviating them, and thus reducing the incidence and impacts of human disease in a more general way.

© The Author(s) 2015. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the Foundation for Evolution, Medicine, and Public Health.


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