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Figure: The Brooks-Wilson lab aims to elucidate the genetics of healthy aging in The Super-Seniors Study

Super-Seniors may reveal the secrets to healthy aging

The motivation Super-Seniors are individuals 85 years and older who have never been diagnosed with a major age-related disease.  This study aimed to identify genetic factors that contribute to the long and healthy lives of Super-Seniors.

The discovery – Angela Brooks-Wilson and her graduate student, Lauren Tindale analyzed the DNA sequence at variable positions in the genome in 15 different genes found to be associated with longevity or healthy aging; this data was obtained from 446 Super-Seniors and was compared to analogous data obtained from a control group made up of 421 randomly selected midlife individuals.  By analyzing the genetic data, they discovered that age-related changes in lipid and cholesterol maintenance, particularly in the brain, may be central to healthy aging and longevity.

Its significance – Determining such genetic factors may help researchers identify targets for the development of therapeutics to improve the health of individuals who are not born with protective DNA gene variants that promote a disease free path to old age.

Read the paper“Lipid and Alzheimer's disease genes associated with healthy aging and longevity in healthy oldest-old” by Tindale, LC; Leach, S; Spinelli, JJ and Brooks-Wilson, AR. Oncotarget Feb. 11 (2017). DOI: 10.18632/oncotarget.15296

Website article compiled by Jacqueline Watson with Theresa Kitos