Using fewer than twenty genomes, researchers were unable to find rare protein-altering variants significantly associated with extreme longevity, according to a study published November 12, 2014 in the open-access journal PLOS ONE by Hinco Gierman from Stanford University and colleagues.
Supercentenarians are the world's oldest people, living beyond 110 years of age. Seventy-four are alive worldwide, with twenty-two living in the United States. The authors of this study performed whole-genome sequencing on 17 supercentenarians to explore the genetic basis underlying extreme human longevity.
From this small sample size, the researchers were unable to find rare protein-altering variants significantly associated with extreme longevity compared to control genomes. However, they did find that one supercentenarian carries a variant associated with a heart condition, which had little or no effect on his/her health, as this person lived over 110 years. The authors added that it is recommended by the American College of Medical Genetics and Genomics to report the results to this individual as an incidental finding. Although the authors didn't find significant association with extreme longevity, the authors have publicly published the genomes, making them available as a resource for future studies on the genetic basis of extreme longevity.
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Citation: Gierman HJ, Fortney K, Roach JC, Coles NS, Li H, et al. (2014) Whole-Genome Sequencing of the World's Oldest People. PLoS ONE 9(11): e112430. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0112430
Funding: This work was supported by the Ellison Medical Foundation/American Federation for Aging Research Fellowship, Stanford Dean's Fellowship, The Paul Glenn Foundation Biology of Aging Seed Grant, National Institute of General Medical Sciences Center for Systems Biology (P50 GM076547) and the University of Luxembourg - Institute for Systems Biology Program. The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.
Competing Interests: The author has declared that no competing interests exist.