An Example of the Proliferation of Studies of Human Longevity

Extensive studies of the genetics of human longevity are growing more common - the flow of data is becoming a flood. Here is an example: "we chose to investigate 1,200 individuals of the Danish 1905 birth cohort, which have been followed since 1998 when the members were 92-93 years old. The genetic contribution to human longevity has been estimated to be most profound during the late part of life, thus these oldest-old individuals are excellent for investigating such effect. The follow-up survival data enabled performance of longitudinal analysis, which is quite unique in the field of genetic epidemiology of human longevity. ... However, this study explores the genetic contribution to survival during the ninth decade of life, hence, in order to investigate the genetic contribution to survival in younger elderly we also included 800 individuals of the Study of Middle-aged Danish twins (MADT). ... The analyses of the data set verified the association [with longevity of] SNPs in the APOE, CETP and IL6 genes, [and] pointed to new candidate genes of human longevity: especially SNPs in the INS, RAD52 and NTHL1 genes appeared promising. As part of these investigations, replication studies of the single-SNP level findings were conducted in German case-control samples of 1,613 oldest-old (ages 95-110) and 1,104 middle-aged individuals and in a Dutch prospective cohort of 563 oldest-old (age 85+). ... Interesting aspects of the study were that the majority of the rare alleles of the identified SNPs were longevity variants, not mortality variants, indicating that at least in our study population, longevity is primarily affected by positively acting minor alleles. ... Furthermore, the genotype data generated were used for a number of replication studies on variation in the FOXO3A, TERT and TERC genes. These studies were performed in response to new data being published on the association of genetic variation in the genes with longevity (FOXO3A and TERT) and with telomere length (TERT and TERC). Our studies verified a role of TERC in human telomere length and of FOXO3A in human longevity (survival from middle age to old age), while a novel role of TERC in human longevity was found."



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