Centenarians breaking records: nature or nurture?

Centenarians breaking records: nature or nurture? ageing, training, performance, older people Societies are progressively aging, with the ‘oldest old’ (i.e. those aged 85–90 years and above) being the most rapidly expanding population segment. Among them, centenarians are not only the survival tail of the population, but also a model of healthy aging as they have managed to postpone (and sometimes even avoided) major chronic diseases and their fatal consequences. Especially remarkable are the cases of centenarians who still have an admirable physical function, and thus represent a paradigm of healthy aging. During the recent European Master Athletic Championship (held in Madrid on March 2018) a 102-year-old Italian athlete, Giuseppe Ottaviani, won several gold medals with a best performance of 0.85 m in the long jump and 3.31 m in the shot put (using a 3 kg weight). There are other remarkable sports achievements by centenarians. For instance, an American, Donald Pellmann, broke multiple world records at his age-group, including in the 100-m dash (26.99 s) and high jump (0.90 m). Genetic factors seem to play an important role in the odds of reaching exceptional longevity. Notably, the DD genotype of the insertion (I)/deletion (D) polymorphism in the angiotensin converting enzyme (ACE) gene is theoretically linked to a higher ACE activity (and thus to higher circulating levels of the gene product, angiotensin II) and is associated with a higher likelihood of reaching exceptional longevity. This in turn could be related, at least partly, to an increased preservation of muscle mass and strength associated with the D-allele, with angiotensin II being not only a vasoconstrictor agent but also a skeletal muscle growth factor [1]. On the other hand, carriage of the ‘unfavourable’ apolipoprotein E (ApoE) gene ε4-allele seems to have a negative impact on exceptional longevity, and might be linked to a greater decline in muscle strength [2]. In this context, one could view the aforementioned athletic achievements as biological exceptions that are largely influenced by a unique genetic endowment. Although this could be true, these achievements should serve to highlight the potential of regular exercise training for the promotion of healthy ageing. Physical function is considered a biomarker of aging, being a predictor of adverse health events, disability and mortality [3]. There is strong scientific evidence that physical activity is associated with healthy aging in the general older population [4]. Indeed, as confirmed by a recent meta-analysis, chronically trained master athletes preserve their physical function despite advancing age [5]. Yet, there is still a tendency to avoid exercise interventions in the oldest old. Sport achievements by centenarians reinforce the need that policy makers implement programmed physical activity across the life span to attenuate age-related decline in physical function. Nature cannot be changed, but we should never stop trying to beat (our) records. Conflicts of interest None. Funding P.L.V. is supported by a predoctoral contract granted by the University of Alcalá (FPI2016). J.S.M. is supported by a predoctoral contract granted by Ministry of Education, Culture and Sport (FPU14/03435). A.L. is supported by grants from Spanish Ministry of Economy and Competitiveness (Fondo de Investigaciones Sanitarias [FIS], grant number PI15/00558). However, these sources of funding played no role in the design, execution, analysis and interpretation of data or writing of the study. References 1 Garatachea N , Marin PJ , Lucia A . The ACE DD genotype and D-allele are associated with exceptional longevity: a meta-analysis . Ageing Res Rev 2013 ; 12 : 1079 – 87 . Google Scholar CrossRef Search ADS PubMed 2 Skoog I , Hörder H , Frändin K et al. . Association between APOE genotype and change in physical function in a population-based Swedish cohort of older individuals followed over four years . Front Aging Neurosci 2016 ; 8 : 225 . eCollection 2016. Google Scholar CrossRef Search ADS PubMed 3 Justice JN , Cesari M , Seals DR , Shively CA , Carter CS . Comparative approaches to understanding the relation between aging and physical function . J Gerontol A Biol Sci Med Sci 2016 ; 71 : 1243 – 53 . Google Scholar CrossRef Search ADS PubMed 4 Daskalopoulou C , Stubbs B , Kralj C , Koukounari A , Prince M , Prina AM . Physical activity and healthy ageing: a systematic review and meta-analysis of longitudinal cohort studies . Ageing Res Rev 2017 ; 38 : 6 – 17 . Google Scholar CrossRef Search ADS PubMed 5 Mckendry J , Breen L , Shad BJ , Greig C . Muscle morphology and performance in master athletes: a systematic review and meta-analyses . Ageing Res Rev 2018 ; 45 : 62 – 82 . Google Scholar CrossRef Search ADS PubMed © The Author(s) 2018. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the British Geriatrics Society. All rights reserved. For permissions, please email: journals.permissions@oup.com This article is published and distributed under the terms of the Oxford University Press, Standard Journals Publication Model (https://academic.oup.com/journals/pages/open_access/funder_policies/chorus/standard_publication_model) http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Age and Ageing Oxford University Press

Centenarians breaking records: nature or nurture?

Age and Ageing , Volume 47 (5) – Sep 1, 2018

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Publisher
Oxford University Press
Copyright
© The Author(s) 2018. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the British Geriatrics Society. All rights reserved. For permissions, please email: journals.permissions@oup.com
ISSN
0002-0729
eISSN
1468-2834
D.O.I.
10.1093/ageing/afy089
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

ageing, training, performance, older people Societies are progressively aging, with the ‘oldest old’ (i.e. those aged 85–90 years and above) being the most rapidly expanding population segment. Among them, centenarians are not only the survival tail of the population, but also a model of healthy aging as they have managed to postpone (and sometimes even avoided) major chronic diseases and their fatal consequences. Especially remarkable are the cases of centenarians who still have an admirable physical function, and thus represent a paradigm of healthy aging. During the recent European Master Athletic Championship (held in Madrid on March 2018) a 102-year-old Italian athlete, Giuseppe Ottaviani, won several gold medals with a best performance of 0.85 m in the long jump and 3.31 m in the shot put (using a 3 kg weight). There are other remarkable sports achievements by centenarians. For instance, an American, Donald Pellmann, broke multiple world records at his age-group, including in the 100-m dash (26.99 s) and high jump (0.90 m). Genetic factors seem to play an important role in the odds of reaching exceptional longevity. Notably, the DD genotype of the insertion (I)/deletion (D) polymorphism in the angiotensin converting enzyme (ACE) gene is theoretically linked to a higher ACE activity (and thus to higher circulating levels of the gene product, angiotensin II) and is associated with a higher likelihood of reaching exceptional longevity. This in turn could be related, at least partly, to an increased preservation of muscle mass and strength associated with the D-allele, with angiotensin II being not only a vasoconstrictor agent but also a skeletal muscle growth factor [1]. On the other hand, carriage of the ‘unfavourable’ apolipoprotein E (ApoE) gene ε4-allele seems to have a negative impact on exceptional longevity, and might be linked to a greater decline in muscle strength [2]. In this context, one could view the aforementioned athletic achievements as biological exceptions that are largely influenced by a unique genetic endowment. Although this could be true, these achievements should serve to highlight the potential of regular exercise training for the promotion of healthy ageing. Physical function is considered a biomarker of aging, being a predictor of adverse health events, disability and mortality [3]. There is strong scientific evidence that physical activity is associated with healthy aging in the general older population [4]. Indeed, as confirmed by a recent meta-analysis, chronically trained master athletes preserve their physical function despite advancing age [5]. Yet, there is still a tendency to avoid exercise interventions in the oldest old. Sport achievements by centenarians reinforce the need that policy makers implement programmed physical activity across the life span to attenuate age-related decline in physical function. Nature cannot be changed, but we should never stop trying to beat (our) records. Conflicts of interest None. Funding P.L.V. is supported by a predoctoral contract granted by the University of Alcalá (FPI2016). J.S.M. is supported by a predoctoral contract granted by Ministry of Education, Culture and Sport (FPU14/03435). A.L. is supported by grants from Spanish Ministry of Economy and Competitiveness (Fondo de Investigaciones Sanitarias [FIS], grant number PI15/00558). However, these sources of funding played no role in the design, execution, analysis and interpretation of data or writing of the study. References 1 Garatachea N , Marin PJ , Lucia A . The ACE DD genotype and D-allele are associated with exceptional longevity: a meta-analysis . Ageing Res Rev 2013 ; 12 : 1079 – 87 . Google Scholar CrossRef Search ADS PubMed 2 Skoog I , Hörder H , Frändin K et al. . Association between APOE genotype and change in physical function in a population-based Swedish cohort of older individuals followed over four years . Front Aging Neurosci 2016 ; 8 : 225 . eCollection 2016. Google Scholar CrossRef Search ADS PubMed 3 Justice JN , Cesari M , Seals DR , Shively CA , Carter CS . Comparative approaches to understanding the relation between aging and physical function . J Gerontol A Biol Sci Med Sci 2016 ; 71 : 1243 – 53 . Google Scholar CrossRef Search ADS PubMed 4 Daskalopoulou C , Stubbs B , Kralj C , Koukounari A , Prince M , Prina AM . Physical activity and healthy ageing: a systematic review and meta-analysis of longitudinal cohort studies . Ageing Res Rev 2017 ; 38 : 6 – 17 . Google Scholar CrossRef Search ADS PubMed 5 Mckendry J , Breen L , Shad BJ , Greig C . Muscle morphology and performance in master athletes: a systematic review and meta-analyses . Ageing Res Rev 2018 ; 45 : 62 – 82 . Google Scholar CrossRef Search ADS PubMed © The Author(s) 2018. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the British Geriatrics Society. All rights reserved. For permissions, please email: journals.permissions@oup.com This article is published and distributed under the terms of the Oxford University Press, Standard Journals Publication Model (https://academic.oup.com/journals/pages/open_access/funder_policies/chorus/standard_publication_model)

Journal

Age and AgeingOxford University Press

Published: Sep 1, 2018

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