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Mech Ageing Dev. 2004 Mar;125(3):169-78.

Vascular genetic factors and human longevity.

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Department of Geriatrics, Center for Aging Brain, Memory Unit, University of Bari, Policlinico, Piazza Giulio Cesare, 11-70124 Bari, Italy.


Complex inter-relationships between age-associated illnesses, such as vascular disease and Alzheimer's disease (AD), suggest that biological and genetic pathways may be worthy of examination in centenarian populations to provide insights into human longevity. This is also borne out by the involvement of lipoprotein metabolism and a number of vascular genetic risk factors. Repeated findings of a higher frequency of the apolipoprotein E (APOE) epsilon4 allele in middle-aged subjects compared with centenarians were reported. Furthermore, we have also shown how in different populations there is a significant trend in reduction of serum APOE levels from APOE epsilon2- to epsilon4-carrier as well as significant differences in serum APOE levels respect to age in epsilon4-carriers but only after adjustment for HDL cholesterol. In contrast, findings of increased prevalence of the angiotensin I converting enzyme 1 (ACE1) D allele in French centenarians have not been replicated, suggesting the possibility that regional differences may occur in ACE1(*)D frequency within Europe in centenarians, as has been recently reported for APOE epsilon2 and epsilon4 alleles. A number of studies have examined the potential role in longevity of other genes involved in vascular risk, haemostasis, and blood pressure regulation [methyltetrahydrofolatereductase (MTHFR), apolipoprotein A1 (APOA-I), apolipoprotein C3 (APOC-III), apolipoprotein A4 (APOA-IV), paraoxonase 1 (PON1), plasminogen activator inhibitor type I (PAI-1)], with contrasting results. While further studies are needed to confirm the possible role of APOE concentration as putative longevity factor, this paper provides an overview of genetic vascular factors potentially involved in human longevity.

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