Researchers at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University have found that the secret of human longevity may be within the genetic mutations.
The team examined the genes involved in the activity of insulin-like growth factor (IGF-I), a hormone that is regulated by the human growth hormone.
The study conducted using the animal model showed that mutations in genes involved in the pathway restricted growth but also increased life spans.
The researchers believe that by influencing the signalling pathway might also influence human longevity.
To validate the finding, they examined 384 Ashkenazi Jewish centenarians.
Since plasma levels of IGF-I do not reflect their levels at a younger age the researchers investigated their children.
The findings revealed that the female children of the centenarians had IGF-I plasma levels that were 35 percent higher than female controls reflecting that the body was compensating for mutations in IGF-I signalling by secreting increased amounts of the hormone. The daughters of centenarians were 2.5 cm shorter than female controls.
"Our findings suggest that, by interfering with IGF-I signalling, these gene mutations somehow play a role in extending the human life span, as they do in many other organisms," said Dr. Nir Barzilai, senior author of the study and director of the Institute for Aging Research at Einstein.
The research appears in March 4 issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.