Spanish and Japanese centenarians reveal a genetic key to longevity

May 9, 2014, Plataforma SINC

The genes of 894 men and women over the age of one hundred in Spain and Japan have revealed that the secret to longevity, at least in southern Europe, lies in a variant on chromosome 9p21.3, which had already been associated with the risk of cardiovascular disease.

Centenarians live at least fifteen years longer than the in the West. This is partially genetic.

There are a number of gene variants that may hold the key to a healthy old age life. For example, a polymorphism (that is, a particular sequence variation in the DNA among individuals from a particular population) called rs1333049 on chromosome 9p21.3 is related to chronic ailments associated with ageing, mainly with cardiovascular diseases.

The C allele is the copy of this gene that carries the greatest risk. In order to find out whether this polymorphism is also associated with extreme longevity, Spanish researchers performed an analysis of the frequencies of this polymorphism among centenarians and healthy adults in two independent cohorts, by geographical regions and by ethnic groups.

The study included 152 Spaniards aged between 110 and 111 years and 742 Japanese people aged between 100 and 115 years. The results have been published in the journal 'Age'.

"This variant may be associated with extreme longevity, particularly among the Spanish population," Alejandro Lucía, the main author and researcher at the European University and also a member of the Hospital 12 de Octubre Research Institute, told SINC. "The study also revealed that the risk allele reduces the possibilities of reaching one hundred years of age".

The frequency of the risk C variant in Spanish people over the age of one hundred was 47.0%, lower than in healthy people that were taken as a control sample in the study (52.9%) and individuals with cardiovascular disease (55.1%).

Significant differences were also discovered between the centenarians and the two control groups when their genotype frequencies were compared, in other words, the proportion of individuals with a specific gene sequence.

The results were different in the Japanese group. Among the Japanese participants, the risk had a similar frequency in centenarians (46.4%) and in healthy controls (47.3%), but it was less frequent than in controls performed with (57.2%).

Although the biological mechanisms through which this could affect ageing are not known, it is adjacent to two genes called CDKN2A and CDKN2B, which play an important role in cell cycle regulation.

"In fact, the CDKN2A takes part in the p53 signalling pathway, one of the most important ones in the cell senescence regulation," adds Lucía.

Healthy ageing model

"People aged one hundred years or over are not only the peak of the population pyramid," says Lucía. "They also represent a healthy ageing model given that they have delayed, and sometimes even avoided, chronic illnesses that come with age and loss of independence and they tend to be just as health as nonagenarians".

This is why the authors believe it is important to know the genetic or environmental factors that condition the possibilities of reaching this age.

Although more research is required, the information obtained from this study coincides with others published recently on the Mediterranean population of the north of Italy, "therefore the effect of this gene seems to exist in southern Europe at least," concluded the researcher.

Explore further: Molecular switches age-related memory decline? Genetic variant protect against brain aging

More information: Tomàs Pinós, Noriyuki Fuku, Yolanda Cámara, Yasumichi Arai, Yukiko Abe, Gabriel Rodríguez-Romo, Nuria Garatachea, Alejandro Santos-Lozano, Elisabet Miro-Casas, Marisol Ruiz-Meana, Imanol Otaegui, Haruka Murakami, Motohiko Miyachi, David Garcia-Dorado, Kunihiko Hinohara, Antoni L. Andreu, Akinori Kimura, Nobuyoshi Hirose y Alejandro Lucia. "The rs1333049 polymorphism on locus 9p21.3 and extreme longevity in Spanish and Japanese cohorts". AGE DOI: 10.1007/s11357-013-9593-0

Related Stories

Molecular switches age-related memory decline? Genetic variant protect against brain aging

May 6, 2014
Even among the healthiest individuals, memory and cognitive abilities decline with age. This aspect of normal aging can affect an individual's quality of life and capability to live independently but the rate of decline is ...

Better cognition seen with gene variant carried by one in five

May 8, 2014
A scientific team led by the Gladstone Institutes and UC San Francisco has discovered that a common form of a gene already associated with long life also improves learning and memory, a finding that could have implications ...

Gene variant contributes to accumulation of necrotic debris in vessels

February 24, 2014
Think of it like a garbage strike. Due to a genetic defect, the body's ability to dispose of its daily tonnage of dead cells gets damaged, and as a result the body's garbage—in the form of old cells and debris—starts ...

New gene variant found increases the risk of colorectal cancer from eating processed meat

April 17, 2014
A common genetic variant that affects one in three people appears to significantly increase the risk of colorectal cancer from the consumption of processed meat, according to study published today in PLOS Genetics.

Recommended for you

Discovery of the 'pioneer' that opens the genome

January 23, 2018
Our genome contains all the information necessary to form a complete human being. This information, encoded in the genome's DNA, stretches over one to two metres long but still manages to squeeze into a cell about 100 times ...

Researchers identify gene responsible for mesenchymal stem cells' stem-ness'

January 22, 2018
Many doctors, researchers and patients are eager to take advantage of the promise of stem cell therapies to heal damaged tissues and replace dysfunctional cells. Hundreds of ongoing clinical trials are currently delivering ...

Genes contribute to biological motion perception and its covariation with autistic traits

January 22, 2018
Humans can readily perceive and recognize the movements of a living creature, based solely on a few point-lights tracking the motion of the major joints. Such exquisite sensitivity to biological motion (BM) signals is essential ...

Peers' genes may help friends stay in school, new study finds

January 18, 2018
While there's scientific evidence to suggest that your genes have something to do with how far you'll go in school, new research by a team from Stanford and elsewhere says the DNA of your classmates also plays a role.

Two new breast cancer genes emerge from Lynch syndrome gene study

January 18, 2018
Researchers at Columbia University Irving Medical Center and NewYork-Presbyterian have identified two new breast cancer genes. Having one of the genes—MSH6 and PMS2—approximately doubles a woman's risk of developing breast ...

A centuries-old math equation used to solve a modern-day genetics challenge

January 18, 2018
Researchers developed a new mathematical tool to validate and improve methods used by medical professionals to interpret results from clinical genetic tests. The work was published this month in Genetics in Medicine.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.