Mitochondrial DNA polymorphism: its role in longevity of the Irish population

Exp Gerontol. 2001 Jul;36(7):1161-78. doi: 10.1016/s0531-5565(01)00094-8.


The mtDNA genome has been implicated as playing a pivotal role in determining the longevity and success of the human lifespan. A PCR-RFLP methodology was used to identify polymorphic restriction enzyme sites within a 2643 bp region of the mtDNA genome and a table of genetic haplotypes for a healthy aged and a younger control cohort of patients was constructed. Forty-six different mtDNA haplotypes and 11 groups of related haplotypes were identified across the two age groups but statistical analysis failed to show any significant associations. The European J haplogroup, previously reported to be associated with longevity, was not found at an increased frequency within the Irish aged population (P=0.36). However, the haplotypes comprising the J haplogroup could be differentiated into two distinct branches by the presence or absence of the two polymorphic restriction sites, 16,389g and 16,000g. The branch of haplotypes defined by 16,389g displayed a significant increased frequency in the aged samples (8%) compared to the controls (1%), P=0.015. Inversely, the branch of haplotypes defined by 16,000g displayed a significant decreased frequency in the aged samples (4%) compared to the controls (13%), P=0.011. The polymorphism (mt5178A) associated with longevity in the Japanese was not found in the Irish population, while the polymorphism (mt9055A) associated with successful ageing in the French centenarians was found at an increased frequency in the Irish aged population (9%) compared to the younger control group (5%), but failed to reach a level of statistical significance, P=0.164.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • DNA, Mitochondrial / classification
  • DNA, Mitochondrial / physiology*
  • Europe
  • Female
  • Haplotypes
  • Humans
  • Ireland
  • Longevity / genetics*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Phylogeny
  • Polymorphism, Genetic*


  • DNA, Mitochondrial