Autopsy reports in extreme longevity

Arch Gerontol Geriatr. Jan-Feb 2010;50(1):48-50. doi: 10.1016/j.archger.2009.01.008. Epub 2009 Mar 13.


This study aimed at establishing the prevalence, the type, the severity of various diseases, as well as the main causes of death in the elderly and ultralongevous subjects. The autopsy findings of 140 centenarians (21 males and 119 females) of the age range of 100-109 years were compared to those of 96 elderly subjects (14 males and 82 females) of the age range of 75-95 years. In all cases the clinical diagnosis, the clinical record, the macro- and microscopic findings and the autopsy protocols were evaluated. A lower prevalence (16.3% vs. 39.0%), as well as a slower and less aggressive evolution of neoplastic pathologies (frequency of metastases: 26.0% vs. 55.0%) in the centenarians, as compared to the general aging population, have been found. The chronic-degenerative pathologies, especially the cerebro-degenerative ones were observed more frequently and were of major gravity in the centenarians, compared to the elderly population. The cerebrovascular damage and the consequent cognitive deficit do not influence the survival of the longevous subjects. Intercurrent events or external accidents may interrupt the weak equilibrium of these "frail" subjects.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Aging / pathology
  • Autopsy*
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / mortality
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / pathology
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Cause of Death*
  • Cerebrovascular Disorders / mortality
  • Cerebrovascular Disorders / pathology
  • Chronic Disease / mortality*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Italy
  • Longevity*
  • Lung Diseases / mortality
  • Lung Diseases / pathology
  • Male
  • Neoplasms / mortality
  • Neoplasms / pathology
  • Probability