10 Nov Living To Extreme Old Age Influenced By Genetics, HDL Cholesterol
Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?
Dr. Milman: Aging is a major risk factor for many diseases, including cardiovascular disease, dementia, and diabetes. Yet, individuals with exceptional longevity delay the onset of most diseases and often escape from age-related illnesses altogether. Exceptional longevity is an inherited trait. A unique cholesterol profile has been previously associated with longevity and specific genetic variations. This profile included elevated levels of high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol or “good” cholesterol and large HDL particles. The present study explored whether elevated HDL cholesterol levels and genes that control HDL cholesterol can predict survival in individuals age 95 years or older.
The study found that higher levels of HDL cholesterol were related to longer survival in women, but not in men. Higher HDL cholesterol level was also seen in individuals without cognitive problems and diabetes. On the other hand, both men and women with larger HDL particle size and higher levels of APOA1, a protein component of HDL cholesterol, exhibited longer survival. Variants in two genes, the CETP and APOA1, were related to higher HDL cholesterol levels.
Medical Research: What should clinicians and patients take away from your report?
Dr. Milman: Exceptional longevity is influenced by genetics and may in part be mediated through HDL cholesterol. Genetic discoveries made in individuals with exceptional longevity inform us about physiological mechanisms that may protect people from age-related diseases.
Medical Research: What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this study?
- Explore the effect of these genetic variants on survival and longevity in other populations.
- Evaluate if medications that target the function of these genes result in better health outcomes and longer survival.
2014 Gerontological Society of America abstract:
High-density Lipoprotein Cholesterol Phenotype and Genotype Predict Survival in Individuals with Exceptional Longevity