Seventeen new genetic variants linked to a longer lifespan have been identified in a new large-scale study. This new study took a novel approach and concentrated on finding genetic associations in those subjects with a family history of longer lifespans.
How long we live is determined by a range of factors including our lifestyle and how well we treat factors including blood pressure and cholesterol from midlife. However genetics and how long our parental relatives lived also play a role.
The study, which looked at genetic correlations among people with long-living parents, found distinct new genetic characteristics connected to lifespan, while also unexpectedly revealing potential gender-specific genetic pathways to a longer life.
The study incorporated a massive dataset of 389,166 subjects and not only confirmed the association of eight previously identified genetic variants that have been linked to lifespan, but also revealed 17 new variants, bringing the total number to 25.
The researchers made some most interesting discovery related to possible gender-specific longevity genes. Three novel genetic variants were associated with longer living mothers in the study, while eight novel variants were associated with fathers.
The results confirm that many genetic variants combine to influence human lifespan, however, no single gene variant was found to be responsible. The study found evidence to suggest that the genetic variants for average lifespan also influence exceptionally long life expectancy.
“We have identified new pathways that contribute to survival, as well as confirming others,” says study author Luke Pilling. “These targets offer potentially modifiable targets to reduce risk of an earlier death and improve health.”
Lead researcher David Melzer said the study help open the way to novel treatment, but the strong role for genes affecting heart disease risk again underlines the importance of controlling blood pressure and cholesterol levels throughout the lifespan.
Of course, adopting healthy lifestyles is important, and can probably overcome the negative effects of most of the genes found so far, the researchers concluded.
Now the number of genes we know influence lifespan has expanded, potentially paving the way to new influence lifespan to prolong life. The study was published in the journal Aging.