SummaryInsulin resistance is a risk factor for various age-related diseases. In the Leiden Longevity study, we recruited longlived siblings and their offspring. Previously, we showed that, compared to controls, the offspring of long-lived siblings had a better glucose tolerance. Here, we compared groups of offspring from long-lived siblings and controls for the relation between insulin and glucose in nonfasted serum (n = 1848 subjects) and for quantitation of insulin action using a two-step hyperinsulinemic-euglycemic clamp (n = 24 subjects). Groups of offspring and controls were similar with regard to sex distribution, age, and body mass index. We observed a positive bi-phasic linear relationship between ln (insulin) levels and nonfasted glucose with a steeper slope from 10.7 mU L )1 insulin onwards in controls compared to offspring (P = 0.02). During the clamp study, higher glucose infusion rate was required to maintain euglycemia during high-dose insulin infusion (P = 0.036) in offspring, reflecting higher whole-body insulin sensitivity. After adjustment for sex, age, and fat mass, the insulin-mediated glucose disposal rate (GDR) was higher in offspring than controls (42.5 ± 2.7 vs. 33.2 ± 2.7 lmol kg )1 min )1, mean ± SE, P = 0.025). The insulin-mediated suppression of endogenous glucose production and lipolysis did not differ between groups (all P > 0.05). Furthermore, GDR was significantly correlated with the mean age of death of the parents. In conclusion, offspring from long-lived siblings are marked by enhanced peripheral glucose disposal. Future research will focus on identifying the underlying biomolecular mechanisms, with the aim to promote health in old age.
Despite similar body composition, the offspring of nonagenarian siblings showed a lower prevalence of metabolic syndrome and better glucose tolerance than their partners, centralizing the role of favorable glucose metabolism in familial longevity.
Our findings support the previous observation that low thyroid activity in humans constitutes a heritable phenotype that contributes to exceptional familial longevity observed in the Leiden Longevity Study.
Studies in humans and in animal models show negative correlations between thyroid hormone (TH) levels and longevity. TH signaling is implicated in maintaining and integrating metabolic homeostasis at multiple levels, notably centrally in the hypothalamus but also in peripheral tissues. The question is thus raised of how TH signaling is modulated during aging in different tissues. Classically, TH actions on mitochondria and heat production are obvious candidates to link negative effects of TH to aging. Mitochondrial effects of excess TH include reactive oxygen species and DNA damage, 2 factors often considered as aging accelerators. Inversely, caloric restriction, which can retard aging from nematodes to primates, causes a rapid reduction of circulating TH, reducing metabolism in birds and mammals. However, many other factors could link TH to aging, and it is these potentially subtler and less explored areas that are highlighted here. For example, effects of TH on membrane composition, inflammatory responses, stem cell renewal and synchronization of physiological responses to light could each contribute to TH regulation of maintenance of homeostasis during aging. We propose the hypothesis that constraints on TH signaling at certain life stages, notably during maturity, are advantageous for optimal aging.
Recently, we have shown that compared to controls, long-lived familial nonagenarians (mean age: 93.4 years) from the Leiden Longevity Study displayed a lower mortality rate, and their middle-aged offspring displayed a lower prevalence of cardio-metabolic diseases, including diabetes mellitus. The evolutionarily conserved insulin/IGF-1 signaling (IIS) pathway has been implicated in longevity in model organisms, but its relevance for human longevity has generated much controversy. Here, we show that compared to their partners, the offspring of familial nonagenarians displayed similar non-fasted serum levels of IGF-1, IGFBP3 and insulin but lower non-fasted serum levels of glucose, indicating that familial longevity is associated with differences in insulin sensitivity.
In animal models, single-gene mutations in genes involved in insulin/IGF and target of rapamycin signalling pathways extend lifespan to a considerable extent. The genetic, genomic and epigenetic influences on human longevity are expected to be much more complex. Strikingly however, beneficial metabolic and cellular features of long-lived families resemble those in animals for whom the lifespan is extended by applying genetic manipulation and, especially, dietary restriction. Candidate gene studies in humans support the notion that human orthologues from longevity genes identified in lower species do contribute to longevity but that the influence of the genetic variants involved is small. Here we discuss how an integration of novel study designs, labour-intensive biobanking, deep phenotyping and genomic research may provide insights into the mechanisms that drive human longevity and healthy ageing, beyond the associations usually provided by molecular and genetic epidemiology. Although prospective studies of humans from the cradle to the grave have never been performed, it is feasible to extract life histories from different cohorts jointly covering the molecular changes that occur with age from early development all the way up to the age at death. By the integration of research in different study cohorts, and with research in animal models, biological research into human longevity is thus making considerable progress.
Compared with their partners, the group of offspring of nonagenarian siblings show a lower thyroidal sensitivity to thyrotropin. These findings suggest that the favorable role of low thyroid hormone metabolism on health and longevity in model organism is applicable to humans as well.
Reduced insulin/insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF-1) signaling has been associated with longevity in various model organisms. However, the role of insulin/IGF-1 signaling in human survival remains controversial. The aim of this study was to test whether circulating IGF-1 axis parameters associate with old age survival and functional status in nonagenarians from the Leiden Longevity Study. This study examined 858 Dutch nonagenarian (males≥89 years; females≥91 years) siblings from 409 families, without selection on health or demographic characteristics. Nonagenarians were divided over sex-specific strata according to their levels of IGF-1, IGF binding protein 3 and IGF-1/IGFBP3 molar ratio. We found that lower IGF-1/IGFBP3 ratios were associated with improved survival: nonagenarians in the quartile of the lowest ratio had a lower estimated hazard ratio (95% confidence interval) of 0.73 (0.59 – 0.91) compared to the quartile with the highest ratio (ptrend=0.002). Functional status was assessed by (Instrumental) Activities of Daily Living ((I)ADL) scales. Compared to those in the quartile with the highest IGF-1/IGFBP3 ratio, nonagenarians in the lowest quartile had higher scores for ADL (ptrend=0.001) and IADL (ptrend=0.003). These findings suggest that IGF-1 axis parameters are associated with increased old age survival and better functional status in nonagenarians from the Leiden Longevity Study.
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