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Nat Rev Genet. 2006 Jun;7(6):436-48.

The quest for genetic determinants of human longevity: challenges and insights.

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Epidemiology, Institute of Public Health, University of Southern Denmark, J.B. Winslows Vej 9B, 5000 Odense C, Denmark.


Twin studies show that genetic differences account for about a quarter of the variance in adult human lifespan. Common polymorphisms that have a modest effect on lifespan have been identified in one gene, APOE, providing hope that other genetic determinants can be uncovered. However, although variants with substantial beneficial effects have been proposed to exist and several candidates have been put forward, their effects have yet to be confirmed. Human studies of longevity face numerous theoretical and logistical challenges, as the determinants of lifespan are extraordinarily complex. However, large-scale linkage studies of long-lived families, longitudinal candidate-gene association studies and the development of analytical methods provide the potential for future progress.

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