Genomics of human longevity

P. E. Slagboom, M. Beekman, W. M. Passtoors, J. Deelen, A. A.M. Vaarhorst, J. M. Boer, E. B. Van Den Akker, D. Van Heemst, A. J.M. De Craen, A. B. Maier, M. Rozing, S. P. Mooijaart, B. T. Heijmans, R. G.J. Westendorp

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

67 Scopus citations


In animal models, single-gene mutations in genes involved in insulin/IGF and target of rapamycin signalling pathways extend lifespan to a considerable extent. The genetic, genomic and epigenetic influences on human longevity are expected to be much more complex. Strikingly however, beneficial metabolic and cellular features of long-lived families resemble those in animals for whom the lifespan is extended by applying genetic manipulation and, especially, dietary restriction. Candidate gene studies in humans support the notion that human orthologues from longevity genes identified in lower species do contribute to longevity but that the influence of the genetic variants involved is small. Here we discuss how an integration of novel study designs, labour-intensive biobanking, deep phenotyping and genomic research may provide insights into the mechanisms that drive human longevity and healthy ageing, beyond the associations usually provided by molecular and genetic epidemiology. Although prospective studies of humans from the cradle to the grave have never been performed, it is feasible to extract life histories from different cohorts jointly covering the molecular changes that occur with age from early development all the way up to the age at death. By the integration of research in different study cohorts, and with research in animal models, biological research into human longevity is thus making considerable progress.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)35-42
Number of pages8
JournalPhilosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences
Issue number1561
StatePublished - 12 Jan 2011
Externally publishedYes


  • Epigenetics and ageing
  • Human longevity
  • Longevity genomics


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