Did the Neanderthal hominid suffer from asthma?

Maybe this is a largely irrelevant question –  basically as relevant as building a museum on top of some Neanderthal 1 bones – as we can never reliable predict a complex trait just by genetics and some broken bones.

Already Virchow was wrong  believing that the “Neanderthaler” was a modern human suffering from senility and malformations … Anyway, new research wants to answer this question:

Here we show that of the 51 asthma-associated loci that we surveyed, 39 carry variants that were derived in the Neanderthal lineage. The shared sequences suggest that some asthma variants may have originated from the Neanderthal genome after admixture and subsequent introgression into the Eurasian population. Of note, one variant, rs4742170, previously linked to asthma and childhood wheezing, was shown in a recent study to disrupt glucocorticoid receptor binding to a putative IL33 enhancer, and elevate enhancer activity of this key asthma gene.

Sorry to say that there are now >3000 variants associated with asthma  including at least 354 coding variants while the authors used only 51 loci in their study derived from an outdated 2016 review. So we could already end up writing up a review here but  the paper continues with omissions and misunderstandings

most of the Neanderthal-derived SNPs we identified, including those near the lead variants for the asthma GWAS signals, are in non-coding regions of the gene

Unfortunately we need to be exact here – not just “near” some variants. The SNP rs4742170 that they showed from the EVA database had indeed the T allele in the Vindija Neanderthal


but unfortunately when going then to dbSNP it is also found in the African genome.


So the whole conclusion

Our findings here …  add asthma to the list of diseases that could be traced back to Neanderthals

is wrong.