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Longevity defined as top 10% survivors is transmitted as a quantitative genetic trait: results from large three-generation datasets

By Niels van den Berg, Mar Rodríguez-Girondo, Ingrid K van Dijk, Rick J. Mourits, Kees Mandemakers, Angelique A.P.O Janssens, Marian Beekman, Ken Robert Smith, P. Eline Slagboom

Posted 23 Jul 2018
bioRxiv DOI: 10.1101/373274 (published DOI: 10.1038/s41467-018-07925-0)

Survival to extreme ages clusters within families. However, identifying genetic loci conferring longevity and low morbidity in such longevous families is challenging. There is debate concerning the survival percentile that best isolates the genetic component in longevity. Here, we use three-generational mortality data from two large datasets, UPDB (US) and LINKS (Netherlands). We studied 21,046 unselected families containing index persons, their parents, siblings, spouses, and children, comprising 321,687 individuals. Our analyses provide strong evidence that longevity is transmitted as a quantitative genetic trait among survivors up to the top 10% of their birth cohort. We subsequently showed a survival advantage, mounting to 31%, for individuals with top 10% surviving first and second-degree relatives in both databases and across generations, even in the presence of non-longevous parents. To guide future genetic studies, we suggest to base case selection on top 10% survivors of their birth cohort with equally long-lived family members.

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