A German study has found that a gene credited with long life in people of Japanese origin can also be found in Europeans. The research was conducted at Germany's Kiel University where 388 Germans who were over 100 years old had their genetic makeup compared with 731 younger individuals. The researchers found that a variant of the gene FOXO3A occurred very frequently in the older group.
The results of the German study were published online by the "Proceedings of the National Academy of the Sciences" (PNAS) in the United States.
Professor Almut Nebel, head of the research group stated, "This discovery is of particular importance because Japanese and Europeans are relatively different genetically. Now we can assume that this gene plays a role worldwide in living longer."
Dr. Friederike Flachsbart, who is the first author of the report, stated, “The most difficult problem is to get enough old people, especially those aged 100 or more, to take part in such a study. Interestingly, the genetic effects are much more evident in 100-year-olds than in 95-year-olds”.
The findings of the German study confirms an earlier U.S. study conducted in September 2008 where scientists examined the genes of 3,741 long lived Americans of Japanese origin and came to the same conclusion. The American study was led by Bradley J. Willcox and was also published in PNAS.
Nebel commented on the previous study, stating, “That published result is only of scientific value if it can be confirmed in a study with an independently chosen sample population. Without that there must still remain a tinge of doubt. We have now eliminated that uncertainty about the connection between FOXO3A and longevity."