Brilliant brains have spent ages trying to discover the key to prolonged life. Most studies have given food and exercise the benefit of the doubt, but a team of researchers has built on the evidence and proposed an alternative explanation.
According to research published in the Lancet eBiomedicine journal, researchers have discovered that centenarians, or those who live to be 100 years or even more, may have a special composition of immune cells that is extremely protective against infections.
Lead author Tanya Karagiannis mentions that “Our data support the theory that centenarians have protective factors which enable them to recover from disease and reach extreme old ages.”
Individuals with healthy immune systems are exposed to illnesses, recover from them, and develop defense mechanisms against further infections.
Scientists predicted that while the immune system’s capacity to fight diseases reduces with age, this might not apply to centenarians.
Researchers found immune-specific patterns of aging and extraordinarily extended human lifespans by examining immune cells circulating in the blood of 7 centenarian individuals in North America.
They compared this data to other, publicly available information that looked at immune cells from people throughout our human lifespan and found that the immunological profiles of centenarians didn’t reflect the same patterns as those linked to naturally aging.
According to lead author Paola Sebastiani, the results “give credence to the concept that centenarians are loaded with protective factors that boost their ability to recover from illnesses.”
According to lead author Stefano Monti, it is unknown if this particular immunological skill is inherited, naturally occurring, or the result of a combination of external variables.
“The answer to what makes one live longer is a really complex one. There are multiple factors, there are genetics – what you inherit from a parent, there is lifestyle, there is luck,” he said.
In order to provide treatments for the aging population throughout the world, study authors expect that the report’s findings expand on earlier research.
Senior author George J. Murphy stated that “Centenarians, and their longevity, provide a ‘blueprint’ for how we may live more productive, healthy lives.”