Human longevity: Genetics or Lifestyle? It takes two to tango

Immun Ageing. 2016 Apr 5;13:12. doi: 10.1186/s12979-016-0066-z. eCollection 2016.


Healthy aging and longevity in humans are modulated by a lucky combination of genetic and non-genetic factors. Family studies demonstrated that about 25 % of the variation in human longevity is due to genetic factors. The search for genetic and molecular basis of aging has led to the identification of genes correlated with the maintenance of the cell and of its basic metabolism as the main genetic factors affecting the individual variation of the aging phenotype. In addition, studies on calorie restriction and on the variability of genes associated with nutrient-sensing signaling, have shown that ipocaloric diet and/or a genetically efficient metabolism of nutrients, can modulate lifespan by promoting an efficient maintenance of the cell and of the organism. Recently, epigenetic studies have shown that epigenetic modifications, modulated by both genetic background and lifestyle, are very sensitive to the aging process and can either be a biomarker of the quality of aging or influence the rate and the quality of aging. On the whole, current studies are showing that interventions modulating the interaction between genetic background and environment is essential to determine the individual chance to attain longevity.

Keywords: Calorie restriction; Genetics of aging; Human longevity.

Publication types

  • Review