Given the rising rate of survival into advanced old age in the United States, achieving longevity and healthy aging is becoming increasingly important. Besides maintaining healthy lifestyle behaviors, positive aging outcomes may also be heritable, with estimates ranging from 20% to 35%. In this qualitative review, we summarize recent findings on genetic factors linked to longevity across different populations and study designs. Recent studies not only confirm the association of APOE with longevity in different populations, but also implicate several other pathways that may influence longevity including nitric oxide production, inflammation, immunity, and DNA damage response and repair. Recent evidence also suggests that mitochondrial DNA may play an important role in attaining longevity. Despite these implicated pathways, longevity may be a polygenic trait influenced by a complex interplay of multiple genes. Future genetic studies on aging would benefit from larger samples of long-lived individuals, birth-cohort matched controls, inclusion of different aging phenotypes (e.g., aging free of morbidities), and analysis of gender differences.
Keywords: Aging; Exceptional longevity; GWAS; Gene; Genome; Lifespan; Longevity.
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