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Aging Cell. 2012 Aug;11(4):607-16. doi: 10.1111/j.1474-9726.2012.00824.x. Epub 2012 May 30.

Genome-wide miRNA signatures of human longevity.

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Institute of Clinical Molecular Biology, Christian-Albrechts-University, Schittenhelmstraße 12, D-24105 Kiel, Germany.


Little is known about the functions of miRNAs in human longevity. Here, we present the first genome-wide miRNA study in long-lived individuals (LLI) who are considered a model for healthy aging. Using a microarray with 863 miRNAs, we compared the expression profiles obtained from blood samples of 15 centenarians and nonagenarians (mean age 96.4 years) with those of 55 younger individuals (mean age 45.9 years). Eighty miRNAs showed aging-associated expression changes, with 16 miRNAs being up-regulated and 64 down-regulated in the LLI relative to the younger probands. Seven of the eight selected aging-related biomarkers were technically validated using quantitative RT-PCR, confirming the microarray data. Three of the eight miRNAs were further investigated in independent samples of 15 LLI and 17 younger participants (mean age 101.5 and 36.9 years, respectively). Our screening confirmed previously published miRNAs of human aging, thus reflecting the utility of the applied approach. The hierarchical clustering analysis of the miRNA microarray expression data revealed a distinct separation between the LLI and the younger controls (P-value < 10(-5) ). The down-regulated miRNAs appeared as a cluster and were more often reported in the context of diseases than the up-regulated miRNAs. Moreover, many of the differentially regulated miRNAs are known to exhibit contrasting expression patterns in major age-related diseases. Further in silico analyses showed enrichment of potential targets of the down-regulated miRNAs in p53 and other cancer pathways. Altogether, synchronized miRNA-p53 activities could be involved in the prevention of tumorigenesis and the maintenance of genomic integrity during aging.

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