Authors: Horvath S, Pirazzini C, Bacalini MG, Gentilini D, Di Blasio AM, Delledonne M, Mari D, Arosio B, Monti D, Passarino G, De Rango F, D’Aquila P, Giuliani C, Marasco E, Collino S, Descombes P, Garagnani P, Franceschi C.
Aging (Albany NY). 2015 Dec;7(12):1159-70.
Semi-supercentenarians (subjects who reached an age of 105-109 years) arguably represent the gold standard of successful human ageing because they managed to avoid or postpone the onset of major age-related diseases. Here we test whether families with extreme longevity are epigenetically distinct from controls according to an epigenetic biomarker of ageing which is known as “epigenetic clock”. We analyze the DNA methylation levels of peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) from Italian families. We demonstrate that the offspring of semi-supercentenarians have a lower epigenetic age than age-matched controls and that centenarians are younger than expected based on their chronological age. By contrast, no significant difference could be observed for estimated blood cell counts. Our results suggest that epigenetic processes might play a role in extreme longevity and healthy human ageing.