Apr 13, 2023

Genetic Contribution From the Stone Age May Influence Our Chance to Have a Long Life

Your life expectancy is dependent upon many things, including your DNA that you inherited from your ancestors. However, that is only one factor. Now, Eva Sittig has published an article in the web site that focuses on DNA:

Our lifestyle has a very big influence on our life expectancy, such as our level of fitness, or whether we smoke or are overweight. Other external factors like social contacts, environmental conditions or education are also important. In addition, our genes also help determine how long we may live. Longevity in humans means living to 95 years and older in relatively good health.

“Variations in the APOE gene have the highest genetic contribution to longevity,” says Professor Almut Nebel from the Institute of Clinical Molecular Biology (IKMB) at Kiel University (CAU).

“The APOE gene provides the blueprint for apolipoprotein E (APOE), which plays an important role in lipid metabolism as a component of lipoproteins.

“The three variants ε2, ε3 and ε4 are relevant for longevity. APOE ε4 is associated with a very high risk of Alzheimer’s disease and can consequently shorten life expectancy. APOE ε2, on the other hand, increases the chance of living a long life, and ε3 is considered neutral. In Europe, the three variants are distributed quite unevenly, with the frequency of the unfavorable variant ε4 decreasing from the north (22%) towards the south (6%).

“The ε2 and ε3 frequencies also vary widely geographically, with ε3 usually being the most common (at least 70%) and ε2 the rarest variant in a population (at most 12%). A research team led by Professor Nebel was the first to use paleogenetics to investigate what may have led to this distribution. They recently published their results in the journal Aging Cell.

“We were able to show that the current distribution of variants in Europe arose primarily from two major immigrations 7,500 years ago and 4,800 years ago, and the subsequent mixing of population groups,” reports first author Daniel Kolbe from Nebel’s research group. “The differences between northern and southern Europe can mainly be explained by these two demographic processes,” says Kolbe, who is doing his Ph.D. in the Translational Evolutionary Research (TransEvo) research training group (GRK) at the CAU.”

The full article may be found at: