Human chitotriosidase polymorphism is associated with human longevity in Mediterranean nonagenarians and centenarians

J Hum Genet. 2010 Jan;55(1):8-12. doi: 10.1038/jhg.2009.111. Epub 2009 Oct 30.


Human phagocyte-specific chitotriosidase (CHIT-1) is a chitinolytic enzyme associated with several diseases involving macrophage activation. Previous studies have demonstrated that a high activity of Chit could have widespread effects on atherosclerosis, cardiovascular disease and dementia. The 24-bp duplication in the CHIT-1 gene is associated with a deficiency in enzymatic activity. In this study, we attempted to assess whether CHIT-1 could be a plausible candidate gene responsible for human longevity. Therefore, we compared the distribution of the CHIT-1 polymorphism genotype in three different populations of the Mediterranean area (Italian, Greek and Tunisian) aged over 90 years. As a control group for each nonagenarian and centenarian, a 60-70-year-old subject was genotyped. We found that the heterozygote frequency for the 24-bp duplication in the CHIT-1 gene was not significantly different among the oldest old subjects of Mediterranean populations, whereas it was significantly different between oldest old subjects and control subjects, being highest among the oldest old subjects and lowest among control groups. In the oldest old group, no subject was observed to be homozygous for CHIT-1 deficiency. Moreover, the mean enzymatic activity in heterozygous oldest subjects was lower than that in the control group. These data indicate that the heterozygosis for a 24-bp duplication in the CHIT-1 gene could have a protective effect in human longevity.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Aging / genetics
  • European Continental Ancestry Group / genetics
  • Genotype
  • Heterozygote
  • Hexosaminidases / genetics*
  • Homozygote
  • Humans
  • Longevity / genetics*
  • Mediterranean Region
  • Middle Aged
  • Polymorphism, Genetic*


  • Hexosaminidases
  • chitotriosidase