Researchers continue their investigations into the biochemical differences between extremely long-lived individuals and the rest of us:
In the present study we have expanded our previous investigation on metabolic signatures of longevity by integrating a system biology approach in serum on a representative North Italian cohort of aged subjects, compromising elderly and centenarians. Data on centenarians in particular are of interest, as they are considered the best example of successful aging having reached the very extremes of the human lifespan. It is worth noting that the metabolic signatures described in this paper reflect mostly female individuals, as male centenarians are much more rare than female ones, and in particular in the north of Italy the male/female ratio is about 1:7.
By combining NMR metabonomics and shot-gun lipidomics in serum we analyzed metabolome and lipidome composition of a group of centenarians with respect to elderly individuals. Specifically, NMR metabonomics profiling of serum revealed that centenarians are characterized by a metabolic phenotype distinct from that of elderly subjects, in particular regarding amino acids and lipid species. Shot- gun lipidomics approach displays unique changes in lipids biosynthesis in centenarians, with 41 differently abundant lipid species with respect to elderly subjects. These findings reveal phospho/sphingolipids as putative markers and biological modulators of healthy aging, in humans.
The represented changes reflect that longevity is marked by better antioxidant capacity and a well-developed membrane lipid remodelling process able to maintain cell integrity. Moreover, in the light of very recent data indicating glycerophosphocholine as a circulating marker related to cell senescence, our data are suggestive of the fact that centenarians are characterised by lower levels of cell senescence with respect to old subjects. As a whole, these data support the hypothesis that from a metabolic point of view centenarians are younger than their chronological age.