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Genetics of Human Longevity and Healthy Aging

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The Epidemiology of Aging

Abstract

Genetic factors contribute to human aging and longevity through the modulation of biologic pathways, but few longevity-gene associations have been replicated to date. Participants in prospective epidemiologic studies provide an opportunity to investigate the genetics of many age-related phenotypes, but large discovery and replication samples are needed for genetic discovery. Today’s genome-wide genotyping of centenarians and participants in longitudinal cohort-based and family-based studies provide the opportunity to assemble these large samples, as does today’s unprecedented collaboration among investigators in the United States, Europe and around the world. This collaboration will make it necessary to standardize the definitions of aging phenotypes, and to assess potential sources of bias and confounding when planning a study and interpreting results. To date, the vast majority of genetic association studies have used populations of European descent. It is essential that in the future, such studies examine other worldwide populations to determine whether gene and allelic effects are heterogeneous across various genetic and environmental backgrounds. The collaboration of international scientists may aid in the translation of genetic associations, and thus uncover the functions of gene variants in the biologic mechanisms that lead to human aging.

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Acknowledgement

The writing of this chapter and heritability analyses conducted by Dr. Lunetta and Dr. Murabito were funded by a grant from the National Institute of Aging R01 AG29451.

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Correspondence to Joanne M. Murabito M.D. ScM .

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Murabito, J.M., Lunetta, K.L. (2012). Genetics of Human Longevity and Healthy Aging. In: Newman, A., Cauley, J. (eds) The Epidemiology of Aging. Springer, Dordrecht. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-94-007-5061-6_13

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