Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Successful aging in the Amish: Researchers discover new genetic factors

Date:
November 4, 2010
Source:
American Society of Human Genetics
Summary:
Avoiding disease, maintaining physical and cognitive function, and continuing social engagement in late life are considered to be key factors associated with what some gerontologists call "successful aging." While conducting studies of Amish families in Indiana and Ohio, a group of researchers began to notice that a significant number of people over age 80 in these communities demonstrated the three main factors associated with successful aging.

Avoiding disease, maintaining physical and cognitive function, and continuing social engagement in late life are considered to be key factors associated with what some gerontologists call "successful aging." While conducting studies of Amish families in Indiana and Ohio, a group of researchers led by William K. Scott, PhD, Professor of Human Genetics at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, began to notice that a significant number of people over age 80 in these communities demonstrated the three main factors associated with successful aging.

In the current study, presented at the American Society of Human Genetics (ASHG) 60th Annual Meeting in Washington, D.C., Scott and his colleagues investigated the genetic differences between Amish individuals who had successfully aged compared with individuals from the general population to see what genetic factors are keeping them healthier and happier well into their later years.

A total of 263 volunteers, age 80 and older, were enrolled in a population-based door-to-door survey of Amish communities in Indiana and Ohio. The researchers studied this particular Amish population because they have fairly large families with well-documented genealogies. Furthermore, because they live relatively homogeneous lives, non-genetic factors such as environment and diet would have a smaller effect on successful aging, as compared to the general population. Study participants who scored in the top third of the sample for lower limb function, required little assistance with self-care tasks, had no symptoms of depression, and expressed a high level of life satisfaction were considered to be 'successfully aged' (73 participants in total). The remaining 190 study participants were retained as controls.

Researchers have theorized for some time that mitochondria -- the organelles that produce energy in human cells -- may play a role in aging. There is evidence that people who age successfully have genetically different mitochondria when compared to the general population. Furthermore, mitochondrial lineages described by patterns of common genetic variants (or "haplogroups") have also been shown to be associated with increased longevity in different populations. To better understand these underlying genetic factors, Dr. Scott and his colleagues studied the influence of mitochondrial haplogroups on successful aging and sought to identify the common genetic variations in the mitochondrial genome that are potentially associated with successful aging in a sample of Amish individuals age 80 and older.

The common variations in the mitochondrial genome define distinct 'haplogroups that are found in specific geographic regions around the world. For this study, Scott's research team looked at the nine most common European haplogroups, since the Amish are descendants of individuals from Europe.

The current research results indicate that one fairly rare mitochondrial haplogroup found in only 2% of all Europeans -- which is known as 'haplogroup X' -- was found in 15% of the successfully aged Amish population (versus only 3% of the controls) and had a significant positive association with successful aging. On the other hand, the researchers also reported that another mitochondrial haplogroup called 'haplogroup J' which is typically found in about 10-25% of Southern Europeans, was found in only 5% of the Amish population and had a negative association with successful aging factors.

Thus, a significant positive association with successful aging was found with mitochondrial haplogroup X (which was more prevalent among the successfully aged Amish population), while a negative association was found with haplogroup J (which is more prevalent in European populations than the Amish). All positively associated alleles were found together on haplogroup X, while all negatively associated alleles fell in haplogroup J. All positively associated alleles were found together on haplogroup X (1719A), while all negatively associated alleles fell in haplogroup J (rs2854122, rs3135030, and 10398G). These data represent a novel association of mitochondrial haplogroup X with successful aging that conflicts with previous positive associations of haplogroup J with longevity in other populations.

"In this study, we focused on looking for genes that may have an influence on keeping people healthy, rather than identifying genes associated with disease," said William Scott, PhD, the senior author of the research abstract presented at the ASHG 2010 Annual Meeting. "Our research results support the idea that mitochondria play an important role in aging, and our findings also suggest a specific subset of genetic variants that might influence successful aging in this group of people."

"In our future research, it is important that we attempt to broadly associate this mitochondrial variation to aging in this population, figure out what it does biologically, and then see if we can reproduce it in other samples," said Scott. "Furthermore, we will also need to look more closely at the mitochondrial genome for specific variants that influence aging."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by American Society of Human Genetics. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

American Society of Human Genetics. "Successful aging in the Amish: Researchers discover new genetic factors." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 4 November 2010. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/11/101103135237.htm>.
American Society of Human Genetics. (2010, November 4). Successful aging in the Amish: Researchers discover new genetic factors. ScienceDaily. Retrieved August 27, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/11/101103135237.htm
American Society of Human Genetics. "Successful aging in the Amish: Researchers discover new genetic factors." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/11/101103135237.htm (accessed August 27, 2014).

Share This




More Health & Medicine News

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Predicting Heart Transplant Rejection With a Blood Test

Predicting Heart Transplant Rejection With a Blood Test

Ivanhoe (Aug. 27, 2014) Now a new approach to rejection of donor organs could change the way doctors predict transplant rejection…without expensive, invasive procedures. Video provided by Ivanhoe
Powered by NewsLook.com
Better Braces That Vibrate

Better Braces That Vibrate

Ivanhoe (Aug. 27, 2014) The length of time you have to keep your braces on could be cut in half thanks to a new device that speeds up the process. Video provided by Ivanhoe
Powered by NewsLook.com
Smartphone App Tracks Your Heart Rate

Smartphone App Tracks Your Heart Rate

Ivanhoe (Aug. 27, 2014) A new app that can track your heart rate 24/7 is available for download in your app store and its convenience could save your life. Video provided by Ivanhoe
Powered by NewsLook.com
Stroke in Young Adults

Stroke in Young Adults

Ivanhoe (Aug. 27, 2014) A stroke can happen at any time and affect anyone regardless of age. This mother chose to give her son independence and continue to live a normal life after he had a stroke at 18 years old. Video provided by Ivanhoe
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins