Genetic and environmental influences on exceptional longevity and the AGE nomogram

Ann N Y Acad Sci. 2002 Apr;959:1-13. doi: 10.1111/j.1749-6632.2002.tb02077.x.


To live beyond the octogenarian years, population and molecular genetic studies of centenarian sibships indicate that genetic factors play an increasingly important role as the limit of life span is approached. These factors are likely to influence basic mechanisms of aging that in turn broadly influence susceptibility to age-related illnesses. Lacking genetic variations that predispose to disease as well as having variations that confer disease resistance (longevity enabling genes) are probably both important to achieving exceptional old age. The AGE (aging, genetics, environment) nomogram is introduced as an illustrative construct for understanding the influence of environmental and genetic factors on survival to various ages, depending on variations in the hypothesized relative importance of genes and environment to longevity. The rapid rise in the incidence of centenarians could indicate that many more people than we originally thought have the optimal set of genetic factors necessary to get to 100 and beyond. Recent studies indicate the likelihood that such factors will be elucidated in the near future.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Animals
  • Environment*
  • Humans
  • Life Expectancy*
  • Longevity / genetics*
  • Longevity / physiology
  • Twin Studies as Topic