Genetic Signatures of Exceptional Longevity in Humans

A bold set of claims from this group working on the genetics of natural variation in longevity for humans: "Like most complex phenotypes, exceptional longevity is thought to reflect a combined influence of environmental (e.g., lifestyle choices, where we live) and genetic factors. To explore the genetic contribution, we undertook a genome-wide association study of exceptional longevity in 801 centenarians (median age at death 104 years) and 914 genetically matched healthy controls. Using these data, we built a genetic model that includes 281 single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) ... Consistent with the hypothesis that the genetic contribution is largest with the oldest ages, the sensitivity of the model increased in the independent cohort with older and older ages ... Further [analysis] suggests that 90% of centenarians can be grouped into clusters characterized by different 'genetic signatures' of varying predictive values for exceptional longevity. ... The different signatures may help dissect this complex phenotype into sub-phenotypes of exceptional longevity." The researchers are claiming some moderately common sets of SNPs found in centenarians (but not so common in the general population) can predict exceptional longevity with odds of 70% or higher, with the much more predictive combinations of SNPs - some at 95% odds of exceptional longevity - being correspondingly very rare. The caveat here is that this is heavily statistical work, and we've already seen one paper from this group withdrawn last year for issues with the statistics.


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