Genes can predict which people are likely to live a century or longer and blood tests for genetic markers may predict longevity with more than a 60 percent certainty, Boston United researchers have reported.
The study, published in the journal Public Library of Science ONE, replaces similar research done by the Boston team in 2010 that was retracted from the journal Science after problems with the analysis were identified in the initial data. The new report - Thursday's paper “Genetic Signatures of Exceptional Longevity in Humans” - was independently reviewed before publication by Yale University experts.
To reach their conclusions, researches extensively studied the DNA of 801 centenarians – median age: 104 at death -- and identified more than 250 genetic traits in the elderly group not seen in younger people.
The genetic markers allowed the researchers to formulate a blood test they said could predict whether people would live 100 years or more with between 60 percent and 85 percent accuracy.
The researchers noted genes are not the only factor in determining longevity. Diet, disease, lifestyle and other factors also play a part. But they concluded genetics may play are more significant role than previously believed.
“Though living to a very old age runs strongly in families, it is also a very complex phenomenon with many different patterns of survival,” wrote researchers, led by Dr. Thomas Perls. “Given this complexity, it is extremely unlikely that a single or few genes confer this survival advantage, but it is likely that many genes are involved.”