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What is the blood of centenarians like?

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What is the blood of centenarians like?

The Karolinska Instetut in Stockholm carried out a very interesting study: what are the characteristic blood biomarkers over time in people who manage to reach a very advanced age? What is special about the blood of people who live a long time?

Nonagenarians and centenarians have long been the subject of great interest among scientists because they can help us understand how to live longer and perhaps even how to age more healthily. So far, studies on centenarians have often been small-scale and focused on a select group, excluding for example centenarians living in retirement homes. The study was published on GeroScience.

A huge database

The study conducted by the Karolinska Institute made an analysis of the biomarker profiles of people who have exceeded 100 years of age and their older peers and we analyzed the link between the profiles and the possibility of becoming centenarians.

The research included data from 44,000 Swedes who underwent health assessments at the ages of 64-99: this was a sample of the so-called Amoris cohort.

These participants were then followed through Swedish registry data for a period of 35 years. Of these people, 1,224, or 2.7%, lived to be 100 years old. The vast majority (85%) of centenarians were female.

We included 12 blood biomarkers related to inflammation, metabolism, liver and kidney function, as well as potential malnutrition and anemia. All of these have been associated with aging or mortality in previous studies.

The biomarker linked to inflammation was uric acid, a waste product in the body caused by the digestion of certain foods.

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Markers linked to metabolic status and function were also analysed, including total cholesterol and glucose, and those linked to liver function, such as alanine aminotransferase (Alat), aspartate aminotransferase (Asat), albumin , gamma-glutamyl transferase (GGT), alkaline phosphatase (Alp) and lactate dehydrogenase (LD).

Creatinine, which is linked to kidney function, and iron and total iron-binding capacity (TIBC), which is linked to anemia, were also tested. Finally, we analyzed albumin, a biomarker associated with nutrition.

The results of the study

The research found that, overall, those who reached their 100th birthday tended to have lower levels of glucose, creatinine and uric acid starting in their sixties. Although median values ​​did not differ significantly between centenarians and noncentenarians for most biomarkers, centenarians rarely had extremely high or low values ​​in these markers.

For example, very few centenarians had a glucose level above 6.5 while alive or a creatinine level above 125.

For many of the biomarkers, both centenarians and non-centenarians had values ​​outside the range considered normal by clinical guidelines. This is likely due to the fact that these guidelines are established based on a younger, healthier population.

When looking for biomarkers linked to the probability of reaching age 100, the Institute found that all but two of the 12 biomarkers (alat and albumin) showed a link to the probability of reaching age 100. This even after taking age, sex and any illnesses into account.

People who had lower total cholesterol and iron levels were less likely to become centenarians. Meanwhile, people with higher levels of glucose, creatinine, uric acid and markers of liver function also decreased their chances of becoming centenarians.

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In absolute terms, the differences were quite small for some of the biomarkers, while for others they were more substantial.

For uric acid, for example, the absolute difference was 2.5 percentage points. This means that people in the group with the lowest uric acid levels had a 4% chance of making it to 100 years old, while in the group with the highest uric acid levels only 1.5% made it to 100 years old.

While the differences discovered were quite small overall, they suggest a potential link between metabolic health, nutrition and exceptional longevity.

The study, however, does not allow conclusions to be drawn about which lifestyle factors or genes are responsible for the biomarker values. Diet and lifestyle certainly have an impact, but there are no absolute or univocal indications, but just advice on keeping the values ​​monitored


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