Centenarians are remarkable not only because of their prolonged life, but also because they compress morbidity until the very last moments of their lives, thus being proposed as a model of successful, extraordinary ageing. From the medical viewpoint, centenarians do not escape the physiological decline or the age-related diseases or syndromes (i.e. frailty), but the rate of such processes is slow enough to be counterbalanced by their increased intrinsic capacity to respond to minor stresses of daily life (i.e. resilience). These new concepts are reviewed in this paper. Allostatic stresses lead to a chronic low-grade inflammation that has led to the proposal of the "inflammaging" theory of ageing and frailty. The biology of centenarians, described in this review, provides us with clues for intervention to promote healthy ageing in the general population. One of the major reasons for this healthy ageing has to do with the genetic signature that is specific for centenarians and certainly different from octogenarians who do not enjoy the extraordinary qualities of centenarians.
Keywords: Extraordinary ageing; Healthy ageing; Intrinsic capacity; Successful ageing.
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