The New England Centenarian Study (NECS) was founded in 1994 as a longitudinal study of centenarians to determine if centenarians could be a model of healthy human aging. Over time, the NECS along with other centenarian studies have demonstrated that the majority of centenarians markedly delay high mortality risk-associated diseases toward the ends of their lives, but many centenarians have a history of enduring more chronic age-related diseases for many years, women more so than men. However, the majority of centenarians seem to deal with these chronic diseases more effectively, not experiencing disability until well into their nineties. Unlike most centenarians who are less than 101 years old, people who live to the most extreme ages, e.g., 107+ years, are generally living proof of the compression of morbidity hypothesis. That is, they compress morbidity and disability to the very ends of their lives. Various studies have also demonstrated a strong familial component to extreme longevity and now evidence particularly from the NECS is revealing an increasingly important genetic component to survival to older and older ages beyond 100 years. It appears to us that this genetic component consists of many genetic modifiers each with modest effects, but as a group they can have a strong influence.
- Journal of applied physiology (Bethesda, Md. : 1985)
- Published over 2 years ago
The purpose of this study was to examine the physiological characteristics of an elite centenarian cyclist who, at 101 years old, established the one-hour cycling record for individuals ≥ 100 years old (24.25 km) and to determine the physiological factors associated with his performance improvement two years later at 103 years old (26.92 km; +11%). Before each record, he performed an incremental test on a cycling ergometer. For two years, he trained 5,000 km a year with a polarized training that involved cycling 80% of mileage at “light” RPE ≤ 12 and 20% at “hard” RPE ≥ 15 at a cadence between 50 and 70 rpm.
Despite their strong increase, the population of the very old, including near-centenarians and centenarians, represent an unstudied and underserved population. Available studies mostly concentrate on predictors of exceptional longevity, but rarely extend their focus to other areas of functioning. Also, little is known about what contributes to experiencing a quality life in very old age. The present population-based study aims at providing a comprehensive picture of key domain of functioning, including physical, cognitive, social and mental function in very old individuals and to determine predictors of mental health indicators.
Forkhead box O3A (FOXOA3) and apolipoprotein E (APOE) are arguably the strongest gene candidates to influence human exceptional longevity (EL, i.e., being a centenarian), but inconsistency exists among cohorts. Epistasis, defined as the effect of one locus being dependent on the presence of ‘modifier genes’, may contribute to explain the missing heritability of complex phenotypes such as EL. We assessed the potential association of epistasis among candidate polymorphisms related to physical capacity, as well as antioxidant defense and cardiometabolic traits, and EL in the Japanese population. A total of 1565 individuals were studied, subdivided into 822 middle-aged controls and 743 centenarians.
After a brief introduction to the background, significance and unique features of the centenarian population in China, we describe the Chinese Longitudinal Healthy Longevity Study (CLHLS), which is the world’s largest study of centenarians, nonagenarians, octogenarians, and compatible young-old aged 65-79. Based on the CLHLS data and other relevant studies, we summarize demographic and socioeconomic characteristics as well as self-reported and objectively-tested health indicators of centenarians in China, with an emphasis on gender differences and rural/urban disparities. We then compare five-year-age-specific trajectories of physical and cognitive functions, self-reported health, and life satisfactions from ages 65-69 to 100+, concluding that good psychological resilience and optimism are keys to the exceptional longevity enjoyed by centenarians. We discuss recent findings of novel loci and pathways that are significantly associated with longevity based on the genome-wide association study (GWAS) of the CLHLS centenarian sample, which is 2.7 times as large as prior GWAS of longevity. We also highlight colleagues' and our own studies on longevity candidate genes and gene-environment interaction analyses. Finally, we discuss limitations inherent in our studies of centenarians in China and further research perspectives.
A study of elderly Okinawans has been carried out by the Okinawa Centenarian Study (OCS) research group for over four decades. The OCS began in 1975 as a population-based study of centenarians (99-year-olds and older) and other selected elderly persons residing in the main island of the Japanese prefecture of Okinawa. As of 2015, over 1000 centenarians have been examined. By several measures of health and longevity the Okinawans can claim to be the world’s healthiest and longest-lived people. In this paper we explore the demographic, phenotypic, and genetic characteristics of this fascinating population.
According to the findings of some recent studies, the centenarians' offspring appear to represent a promising model for research on longevity and healthy aging. This study compares the health status and the functional status of three groups of subjects: 1. individuals with two long-lived parents (one of whom centenarian), 2. individuals with only one long-lived (centenarian) parent, 3. individuals with no long-lived parents. The goal is to verify whether the centenarians' offspring display any advantage over the offspring of both non-long-lived parents and to evaluate whether the longevity of the non-centenarian parent provides a further advantage. A total of 374 subjects (mean age approximately 70years) was examined. A threshold for longevity was established for non-centenarian parents through demographic data available for Italy (males surviving to at least 81years of age and females to 87years). The participants were assessed for their health and functional status by means of a standardized questionnaire and tests of physical performance. Data were analyzed using multivariate regression models adjusted for socio-demographic characteristics and risk factors for age-related pathologies. The results of the study show that centenarians' offspring have a better functional status, a reduced risk for several age-related pathologies and reduced drug consumption than the offspring of non-long-lived parents. In addition, the health status of centenarians' offspring does not appear to be influenced by the longevity of the second parent. It therefore seems possible to conclude that at ages around 70years the genetic contribution to health status deriving from having one centenarian parent is not substantially improved if the other parent is also long-lived.
The myostatin (MSTN) gene is a candidate to influence extreme longevity owing to its role in modulating muscle mass and sarcopenia and especially in inhibiting the main nutrient-sensing pathway involved in longevity, i.e. mammalian target of rapamycin. We compared allele/genotype distributions of the exonic MSTN variants K153R (rs1805086), E164K (rs35781413), I225T and P198A, in Spanish centenarians (cases, n = 156; 132 women, age range 100-111 years) and younger adults (controls, n = 384; 167 women, age <50 years). No subject of either group carried a mutant allele of the E164K, I225T or P198A variation. The frequency of the variant R allele was significantly higher in centenarians (7.1 %) than in controls (2.7 %) (P = 0.001). The odds ratio of being a centenarian if the subject had the R allele was 3.48 (95 % confidence interval 1.67-7.28, P = 0.001), compared to the control group, after adjusting for sex. The results were replicated in an Italian cohort (centenarians, n = 79 (40 women), age range 100-104 years; younger controls, n = 316 (155 women), age <50 years), where a higher frequency of the R allele in centenarians (7.6 %) compared to controls (3.0 %) (P = 0.004) was independently confirmed. Although more research is needed, the variant allele of the MSTN K153R polymorphism could be among the genetic contributors associated with exceptional longevity.