Polygenic effects of common single-nucleotide polymorphisms on life span: when association meets causality.

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Recently we have shown that the human life span is influenced jointly by many common single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs), each with a small individual effect. Here we investigate further the polygenic influence on life span and discuss its possible biological mechanisms. First we identified six sets of prolongevity SNP alleles in the Framingham Heart Study 550K SNPs data, using six different statistical procedures (normal linear, Cox, and logistic regressions; generalized estimation equation; mixed model; gene frequency method). We then estimated joint effects of these SNPs on human survival. We found that alleles in each set show significant additive influence on life span. Twenty-seven SNPs comprised the overlapping set of SNPs that influenced life span, regardless of the statistical procedure. The majority of these SNPs (74%) were within genes, compared to 40% of SNPs in the original 550K set. We then performed a review of current literature on functions of genes closest to these 27 SNPs. The review showed that the respective genes are largely involved in aging, cancer, and brain disorders. We concluded that polygenic effects can explain a substantial portion of genetic influence on life span. Composition of the set of prolongevity alleles depends on the statistical procedure used for the allele selection. At the same time, there is a core set of longevity alleles that are selected with all statistical procedures. Functional relevance of respective genes to aging and major diseases supports causal relationships between the identified SNPs and life span. The fact that genes found in our and other genetic association studies of aging/longevity have similar functions indicates high chances of true positive associations for corresponding genetic variants.





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Yashin, Anatoliy I, Deqing Wu, Konstantin G Arbeev and Svetlana V Ukraintseva (2012). Polygenic effects of common single-nucleotide polymorphisms on life span: when association meets causality. Rejuvenation Res, 15(4). pp. 381–394. 10.1089/rej.2011.1257 Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10161/14873.

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Anatoli I. Yashin

Research Professor in the Social Science Research Institute

Dequing Wu

Research Scientist, Senior

Konstantin Arbeev

Associate Research Professor in the Social Science Research Institute

Konstantin G. Arbeev received the M.S. degree in Applied Mathematics from Moscow State University (branch in Ulyanovsk, Russia) in 1995 and the Ph.D. degree in Mathematics and Physics (specialization in Theoretical Foundations of Mathematical Modeling, Numerical Methods and Programming) from Ulyanovsk State University (Russia) in 1999. He was a post-doctoral fellow in Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research in Rostock (Germany) before moving to Duke University in 2004 to work as a Research Scientist and a Senior Research Scientist in the Department of Sociology and the Social Science Research Institute (SSRI).  He is currently an Associate Research Professor in SSRI. Dr. Arbeev's major research interests are related to three interconnected fields of biodemography, biostatistics and genetic epidemiology as pertains to research on aging. The focus of his research is on discovering genetic and non-genetic factors that can affect the process of aging and determine longevity and healthy lifespan. He is interested in both methodological advances in this research area as well as their practical applications to analyses of large-scale longitudinal studies with phenotypic, genetic and, recently, genomic information. Dr. Arbeev authored and co-authored more than 150 peer-reviewed publications in these areas.


Svetlana Ukraintseva

Research Professor in the Social Science Research Institute

Dr. Ukraintseva studies causes of human aging and related decline in resilience, to identify genetic and other factors responsible for the increase in mortality risk with age eventually limiting longevity. She explores complex relationships, including trade-offs, between physiological aging-changes and risks of major diseases (with emphasis on Alzheimer’s and cancer), as well as survival, to find new genetic and other targets for anti-aging interventions and disease prevention. She also investigates possibilities of repurposing of existing vaccines and treatments for AD prevention and interventions into the aging. For this, Dr. Ukraintseva and her team use data from several large human studies containing rich genetic and phenotypic information (including longitudinal measurements) on thousands of individuals. Dr. Ukraintseva is a PI and Key Investigator on several NIH funded grants, and has more than 130 peer-reviewed publications, including in major journals such as Nature Reviews, Stroke, European Journal of Human Genetics, and some other.

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