Oldest humans may have immune cells that keep them healthy

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The world’s oldest people may live so long because of their genetic makeup, according to research from Boston University and Tufts Medical Centre.

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The research found that people who live to be 100 years of age or older may have a makeup of immune cells that largely protects them from illnesses.

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The study was published at the end of March in the peer-reviewed journal Lancet eBiomedicine.

“Our data supports the hypothesis that centenarians have protective factors that enable (them) to recover from disease and reach extreme old ages,” lead author Tanya Karagiannis, a senior bioinformatician with the Tufts Medical Center, said.

Researchers looked at immune cells circulating in the blood taken from seven centenarian participants in North America and identified immune-specific patterns of aging and extreme human longevity.

They compared this information with other publicly available data that looked at immune cells from people ranging across the human lifespan and found centenarians’ immune profile did not follow trends associated with natural aging, according to USA Today.

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The findings “provide support to the hypothesis that centenarians are enriched with protective factors that increase their ability to recover from infections,” said senior author Paola Sebastiani, of Tufts Medical Center.

They don’t know if this is genetic or not. Other factors that play key roles in how long you live besides genes are lifestyle and luck, the authors said.

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