You’re no doubt keenly aware of all the ways you and your significant other have become more similar since shacking up — same expressions, conjoining opinions, maybe you’re even dressing a bit alike. But here’s one thing you probably missed: Your immune systems have been aligning, too.
That’s the upshot of new research in the journal Nature Immunology, in which a team at Belgium’s University Of Leuven tracked the blood samples of 150 people, including 70 married couples, over the course of 6 months. They were shocked to discover the immune systems of the married couples were ridiculously similar. For comparison, when you and your spouse first met, your immune systems were unique records of the lives you had lived up to that point — roughly 75 percent environment and 25 percent genetic. Now, if the Belgians’ research is correct, both of your systems have shifted to show 50-percent less variation (in the environmental part because your genes are your genes. Sorry). This means you and the old ball and chain are 50-percent more likely to be immune to the same stuff, and 50-percent more likely to get sick from the same stuff.
While the findings are surprising — who knew you 2 were intertwining on, like, a molecular level? — the explanation is not. After all, you eat the same foods, share the same colds, breath the same dust, and (hopefully) swap cooties all the time. No one ever thought to shine a light on what those cooties were doing when no one was looking, but now you know: they’re ensuring that, over the life of the relationship, you each do an equal amount of bringing the other tissues, chicken soup, and sympathy for cold-induced misery. Ain’t biology amazing?
[H/T] The Science of Us