Centenarians and their offspring are increasingly considered a useful model to study and characterize the mechanisms underlying healthy aging and longevity. The aim of this project is to compare the prevalence of age-related diseases and telomere length (TL), a marker of biological age and mortality, across five groups of subjects: semisupercentenarians (SSCENT) (105-109years old), centenarians (CENT) (100-104years old), centenarians' offspring (CO), age- and gender-matched offspring of parents who both died at an age in line with life expectancy (CT) and age- and gender-matched offspring of both non-long-lived parents (NLO). Information was collected on lifestyle, past and current diseases, medical history and medication use. SSCENT displayed a lower prevalence of acute myocardial infarction (p=0.027), angina (p=0.016) and depression (p=0.021) relative to CENT. CO appeared to be healthier compared to CT who, in turn, displayed a lower prevalence of both arrhythmia (p=0.034) and hypertension (p=0.046) than NLO, characterized by the lowest parental longevity. Interestingly, CO and SSCENT exhibited the longest (p<0.001) and the shortest (p<0.001) telomeres respectively while CENT showed no difference in TL compared to the younger CT and NLO. Our results strengthen the hypothesis that the longevity of parents may influence the health status of their offspring. Moreover, our data also suggest that both CENT and their offspring may be characterized by a better TL maintenance which, in turn, may contribute to their longevity and healthy aging. The observation that SSCENT showed considerable shorter telomeres compared to CENT may suggest a progressive impairment of TL maintenance mechanisms over the transition from centenarian to semisupercentenarian age.
Keywords: Centenarians; Longevity; Peripheral leukocyte telomere length.
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