Paternal HLA genotype and offspring sex ratio

P. Astolfi, M. Cuccia, M. Martinetti

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


For twenty years, W.H. James has been proposing that the sex hormone level of both parents could control at least a quota of the secondary sex ratio variation at the time of conception. Observations supporting this hypothesis have come from investigations on some diseases related to the human leukocyte antigen (HLA). In the present study on 1102 healthy Italian families, we investigated the potential effect on the offspring sex ratio of HLA-B alleles on the basis of a genetic model. We defined three subsets of HLA-B alleles and hypothesized a locus (L) with three alleles, LH, LN, LB15, on the basis of the positive, neutral, or negative effect on the testosterone level. According to the genetic model and the dominance relation LH > LB15 > LN, six genotypic and three phenotypic classes (H, N, B15) can be expected. We found a significantly high number of daughters (66%) born to fathers carrying the B15 phenotype. This result suggests an effect of the HLA-B15 allele on the secondary sex ratio, mediated by a low testosterone level.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)315-319
Number of pages5
JournalHuman Biology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2001


  • HLA Alleles
  • Sex ratio
  • Testosterone level

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)
  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Genetics
  • Genetics(clinical)


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