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Longevity Briefs: ‘Super-agers’ study finds that Suppressing Chronic Inflammation is the Key to Long Life

Posted on 19 April 2021

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Longevity briefs provides a short summary of novel research in biology, medicine, or biotechnology that caught the attention of our researchers in Oxford, due to its potential to improve our health, wellbeing, and longevity.

Why is this research important: Unfortunately healthspan, i.e the number of years spent free from debilitation, has increased at a slower rate than life expectancy in a number of countries. Within the European Union, for instance, life expectancy at age 50 has grown by 1.2 years between 2005 and 2010, but healthspan has only grown by 4-5 months.

Centenarians and (semi-)super-centenarians are regarded as model cases for ‘successful ageing’, as they reach a remarkably old age whilst remaining disease-free. Understanding the factors that allow these individuals to reach such an impressive age, might help to achieve extended healthy lifespan for the general population and to reduce the gap between the fastest and the slowest ageing population groups.

Ágnes Keleti, the world’s oldest living Olympic champion, celebrated her 100th birthday. Source: Inside the Games

What did the researchers do: A collaboration between researchers at the Keio University School of Medicine, in Tokyo, Japan, and Newcastle University in the UK, combined the results from three comprehensive studies, Tokyo Oldest Old Survey on Total Health (TOOTH), Tokyo Centenarians Study (TCS) and Japanese Semi-Supercentenarians Study (JSS), to determine the most important molecular drivers of successful ageing at extreme old age.

The researchers also wanted to see whether these biomarkers would be inherited by the participants’ offspring.

Key takeaway(s) from this research: The results indicate that the suppression of chronic inflammation as a major determinant of successful longevity, which is relevant over a very wide age range up to extreme old age. The authors state…

…the development of more sophisticated and safer anti-inflammatory strategies could be an essential step towards the prevention of human premature ageing.

Source: (Arai et al., 2015)

Interestingly, although centenarians were shown to retain longer telomeres, telomere length was not a reliable indication of good health in old age.

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