Centenarians' genes age slower than expected and show genetic manifestations of aging like septuagenarians, claims a new international study conducted by the University of Haifa published Sunday in the Aging Cell journal.
The study, which attempts to uncover the secret to longevity in people aged 100 and over, examined increases in age-related pathogenic mutations accumulating in several areas in seniors' genes.
The study group consisted of 551 Ashkenazi Jews from the United States and Europe aged 100 or over. The researchers compared the results to a group of 532 Ashkenazi Jews from the United States aged 70 and over.
Researchers have chosen to examine the Ashkenazi population because it grew from a very small number of founding individuals 600-800 years ago, making it simpler for researchers to distinguish between a gene and a trait due to the population's more consistent genetic composition.
They examined different areas of a subject's genome - especially regions that produce traits, proteins - and enzymes and attempted finding mutations through a process of genetic sequencing.
The results of the study show that contrary to all hypotheses, the number of pathogenic mutations among centenarians is equal to the number of pathogenic mutations among septuagenarians.
Researchers also found no difference between the two groups in specific mutations that cause geriatric diseases such as Alzheimer's, dementia, Parkinson's and diabetes.
Prof. Gil Atzmon, who directed the study, said that this could be the result of different biological processes slowing down with old age.