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1.  The A3 Adenosine Receptor Mediates Cell Spreading, Reorganization of Actin Cytoskeleton, and Distribution of Bcl-xL: Studies in Human Astroglioma Cells 
The pathophysiological role of the adenosine A3 receptor in the central nervous system is largely unknown. We have investigated the effects of the selective A3 receptor agonist 2-chloro-N6-(3-iodobenzyl)-adenosine, Cl-IB-MECA, in cells of the astroglial lineage (human astrocytoma ADF cells). A marked reorganization of the cytoskeleton, with appearance of stress fibers and numerous cell protrusions, was found following exposure of cells to low (nM) concentrations of Cl-IB-MECA. These “trophic” effects were accompanied by induction of the expression of Rho, a small GTP-binding protein, which was virtually absent in control cells, and by changes of the intracellular distribution of the antiapoptotic protein Bcl-xL, that, in agonist-exposed cells, became specifically associated to cell protrusions. This is the first demonstration that the intracellular organization of Bcl-xL can be modulated by the activation of a G-protein-coupled membrane receptor, such as the A3 adenosine receptor. Moreover, modulation of the astrocytic cytoskeleton by adenosine may have intriguing implications in both nervous system development and in the response of the brain to trauma and ischemia.
PMCID: PMC4248308  PMID: 9425266
2.  Age-Related Changes of Adaptive and Neuropsychological Features in Persons with Down Syndrome 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(11):e113111.
Down Syndrome (DS) is characterised by premature aging and an accelerated decline of cognitive functions in the vast majority of cases. As the life expectancy of DS persons is rapidly increasing, this decline is becoming a dramatic health problem. The aim of this study was to thoroughly evaluate a group of 67 non-demented persons with DS of different ages (11 to 66 years), from a neuropsychological, neuropsychiatric and psychomotor point of view in order to evaluate in a cross-sectional study the age-related adaptive and neuropsychological features, and to possibly identify early signs predictive of cognitive decline. The main finding of this study is that both neuropsychological functions and adaptive skills are lower in adult DS persons over 40 years old, compared to younger ones. In particular, language and short memory skills, frontal lobe functions, visuo-spatial abilities and adaptive behaviour appear to be the more affected domains. A growing deficit in verbal comprehension, along with social isolation, loss of interest and greater fatigue in daily tasks, are the main features found in older, non demented DS persons evaluated in our study. It is proposed that these signs can be alarm bells for incipient dementia, and that neuro-cognitive rehabilitation and psycho-pharmacological interventions must start as soon as the fourth decade (or even earlier) in DS persons, i.e. at an age where interventions can have the greatest efficacy.
PMCID: PMC4242614  PMID: 25419980
3.  Gut Microbiome in Down Syndrome 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(11):e112023.
Premature aging seriously compromises the health status of Down Syndrome (DS) persons. Since human aging has been associated with a deterioration of the gut microbiota (GM)-host mutualism, here we investigated the composition of GM in DS.
The observational study presented involved 17 adult DS persons. We characterized the GM structure by 454 pyrosequencing of the V4 region of the 16S rRNA gene. DS microbiome was compared with that of age-matched healthy non-trisomic adults enrolled in the same geographic area.
Results and Conclusions
The dominant GM fraction of DS persons showed an overall mutualistic immune-modulatory layout, comparable to that of healthy controls. This makes GM a possible factor counteracting the genetic determined acceleration of immune senescence in DS persons. However, we also found detectable signatures specific for DS among subdominant GM components, such as the increase of Parasporobacterium and Sutterella. In particular, the abundance of this last microorganism significantly correlated with the Aberrant Behavior Checklist (ABC) total score, allowing us to hypothesize a possible role for this microbial genus in behavioral features in DS.
PMCID: PMC4227691  PMID: 25386941
4.  From lifetime to evolution: timescales of human gut microbiota adaptation 
Human beings harbor gut microbial communities that are essential to preserve human health. Molded by the human genome, the gut microbiota (GM) is an adaptive component of the human superorganisms that allows host adaptation at different timescales, optimizing host physiology from daily life to lifespan scales and human evolutionary history. The GM continuously changes from birth up to the most extreme limits of human life, reconfiguring its metagenomic layout in response to daily variations in diet or specific host physiological and immunological needs at different ages. On the other hand, the microbiota plasticity was strategic to face changes in lifestyle and dietary habits along the course of the recent evolutionary history, that has driven the passage from Paleolithic hunter-gathering societies to Neolithic agricultural farmers to modern Westernized societies.
PMCID: PMC4219431  PMID: 25408692
gut microbiota; aging; environmental stimuli; co-evolution; biological adaptation
5.  Poly(ADP-ribosyl)ation is involved in the epigenetic control of TET1 gene transcription 
Oncotarget  2014;5(21):10356-10367.
TET enzymes are the epigenetic factors involved in the formation of the sixth DNA base 5-hydroxymethylcytosine, whose deregulation has been associated with tumorigenesis. In particular, TET1 acts as tumor suppressor preventing cell proliferation and tumor metastasis and it has frequently been found down-regulated in cancer. Thus, considering the importance of a tight control of TET1 expression, the epigenetic mechanisms involved in the transcriptional regulation of TET1 gene are here investigated. The involvement of poly(ADP-ribosyl)ation in the control of DNA and histone methylation on TET1 gene was examined. PARP activity is able to positively regulate TET1 expressionmaintaining a permissive chromatin state characterized by DNA hypomethylation of TET1 CpG island as well as high levels of H3K4 trimethylation. These epigenetic modifications were affected by PAR depletion causing TET1 down-regulation and in turn reduced recruitment of TET1 protein on HOXA9 target gene. In conclusion, this work shows that PARP activity is a transcriptional regulator of TET1 gene through the control of epigenetic events and it suggests that deregulation of these mechanisms could account for TET1 repression in cancer.
PMCID: PMC4279378  PMID: 24939750
poly(ADP-ribosyl)ation; TET1; DNA methylation; 5-hydroxymethylcytosine
6.  Role of epigenetics in human aging and longevity: genome-wide DNA methylation profile in centenarians and centenarians’ offspring 
Age  2012;35(5):1961-1973.
The role of epigenetics in the modulation of longevity has not been studied in humans. To this aim, (1) we evaluated the DNA methylation from peripheral leukocytes of 21 female centenarians, their 21 female offspring, 21 offspring of both non-long-lived parents, and 21 young women through ELISA assay, pyrosequencing analysis of Alu sequences, and quantification of methylation in CpG repeats outside CpG islands; (2) we compared the DNA methylation profiles of these populations through Infinium array for genome-wide CpG methylation analysis. We observed an age-related decrease in global DNA methylation and a delay of this process in centenarians’ offspring. Interestingly, literature data suggest a link between the loss of DNA methylation observed during aging and the development of age-associated diseases. Genome-wide methylation analysis evidenced DNA methylation profiles specific for aging and longevity: (1) aging-associated DNA hypermethylation occurs predominantly in genes involved in the development of anatomical structures, organs, and multicellular organisms and in the regulation of transcription; (2) genes involved in nucleotide biosynthesis, metabolism, and control of signal transmission are differently methylated between centenarians’ offspring and offspring of both non-long-lived parents, hypothesizing a role for these genes in human longevity. Our results suggest that a better preservation of DNA methylation status, a slower cell growing/metabolism, and a better control in signal transmission through epigenetic mechanisms may be involved in the process of human longevity. These data fit well with the observations related to the beneficial effects of mild hypothyroidism and insulin-like growth factor I system impairment on the modulation of human lifespan.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1007/s11357-012-9463-1) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC3776126  PMID: 22923132
Epigenetics; Longevity; Centenarians; Centenarians’ offspring; DNA methylation; Aging
7.  Hormone replacement therapy enhances IGF-1 signaling in skeletal muscle by diminishing miR-182 and miR-223 expressions: a study on postmenopausal monozygotic twin pairs 
Aging Cell  2014;13(5):850-861.
MiRNAs are fine-tuning modifiers of skeletal muscle regulation, but knowledge of their hormonal control is lacking. We used a co-twin case–control study design, that is, monozygotic postmenopausal twin pairs discordant for estrogen-based hormone replacement therapy (HRT) to explore estrogen-dependent skeletal muscle regulation via miRNAs. MiRNA profiles were determined from vastus lateralis muscle of nine healthy 54–62-years-old monozygotic female twin pairs discordant for HRT (median 7 years). MCF-7 cells, human myoblast cultures and mouse muscle experiments were used to confirm estrogen’s causal role on the expression of specific miRNAs, their target mRNAs and proteins and finally the activation of related signaling pathway. Of the 230 miRNAs expressed at detectable levels in muscle samples, qPCR confirmed significantly lower miR-182, miR-223 and miR-142-3p expressions in HRT using than in their nonusing co-twins. Insulin/IGF-1 signaling emerged one common pathway targeted by these miRNAs. IGF-1R and FOXO3A mRNA and protein were more abundantly expressed in muscle samples of HRT users than nonusers. In vitro assays confirmed effective targeting of miR-182 and miR-223 on IGF-1R and FOXO3A mRNA as well as a dose-dependent miR-182 and miR-223 down-regulations concomitantly with up-regulation of FOXO3A and IGF-1R expression. Novel finding is the postmenopausal HRT-reduced miRs-182, miR-223 and miR-142-3p expression in female skeletal muscle. The observed miRNA-mediated enhancement of the target genes’ IGF-1R and FOXO3A expression as well as the activation of insulin/IGF-1 pathway signaling via phosphorylation of AKT and mTOR is an important mechanism for positive estrogen impact on skeletal muscle of postmenopausal women.
PMCID: PMC4331762  PMID: 25040542
aging; AKT; FOXO3A; IGF-1 signaling; IGF-1R; menopause; miR-142-3p; miR-182; miR-223; mTOR; phosphorylation
8.  Age- and glycemia-related miR-126-3p levels in plasma and endothelial cells 
Aging (Albany NY)  2014;6(9):771-786.
Circulating miR-126-3p levels were determined in 136 healthy subjects (CTRs) aged 20-90 years and 193 patients with type-2 diabetes mellitus (T2DMs) aged 40-80 years, to explore the combined effect of age and glycemic state on miR-126-3p expression. Moreover, intra/extracellular miR-126-3p levels were measured in human endothelial cells (HUVECs) undergoing senescence under normo/hyper-glycemic conditions.
Plasma miR-126-3p was significantly higher in the oldest compared with the youngest CTRs (<45 vs. >75 years; relative expression: 0.27±0.29 vs. 0.48±0.39, p=0.047). Age-based comparison between CTRs and T2DM demonstrated significantly different miR-126-3p levels only in the oldest (0.48±0.39 vs. 0.22±0.23, p<0.005). After multiple adjustments, miR-126-3p levels were seen to be lower in patients with poor glycemic control, compared with age-matched CTRs.
The age-related increase in plasma miR-126-3p found in CTRs was paralleled by a 5/6-fold increase in intra/extracellular miR-126-3p in in vitro-cultured HUVECs undergoing senescence. Notably, significant down-regulation of SPRED-1 protein, a validated miR-126-3p target, was found in senescent HUVECs. Moreover, miR-126-3p expression was down-regulated in intermediate-age HUVECs grown in high-glucose medium until senescence.
Aging/senescence-associated miR-126-3p up-regulation is likely a senescence-associated compensatory mechanism that is blunted when endothelial cells are exposed to high glucose levels, a phenomenon that probably occurs in vivo in T2DM patients.
PMCID: PMC4221921  PMID: 25324472
miR-126-3p; T2DM; HUVEC; senescence
9.  MiR-146a as marker of senescence-associated pro-inflammatory status in cells involved in vascular remodelling 
Age  2012;35(4):1157-1172.
In order to identify new markers of vascular cell senescence with potential in vivo implications, primary cultured endothelial cells, including human umbilical vein endothelial cells (HUVECs), human aortic endothelial cells (HAECs), human coronary artery endothelial cells (HCAECs) and ex vivo circulating angiogenic cells (CACs), were analysed for microRNA (miR) expression. Among the 367 profiled miRs in HUVECs, miR-146a, miR-9, miR-204 and miR-367 showed the highest up-regulation in senescent cells. Their predicted target genes belong to nine common pathways, including Toll-like receptor signalling (TLR) that plays a pivotal role in inflammatory response, a key feature of senescence (inflammaging). MiR-146a was the most up-regulated miR in the validation analysis (>10-fold). Mimic and antagomir transfection confirmed TLR’s IL-1 receptor-associated kinase (IRAK1) protein modulation in both young and senescent cells. Significant correlations were observed among miR-146a expression and β-galactosidase expression, telomere length and telomerase activity. MiR-146a hyper-expression was also validated in senescent HAECs (>4-fold) and HCAECs (>30-fold). We recently showed that CACs from patients with chronic heart failure (CHF) presented a distinguishing feature of senescence. Therefore, we also included miR-146a expression determination in CACs from 37 CHF patients and 35 healthy control subjects (CTR) for this study. Interestingly, a 1,000-fold increased expression of miR-146a was observed in CACs of CHF patients compared to CTR, along with decreased expression of IRAK1 protein. Moreover, significant correlations among miR-146a expression, telomere length and telomerase activity were observed. Overall, our findings indicate that miR-146a is a marker of a senescence-associated pro-inflammatory status in vascular remodelling cells.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1007/s11357-012-9440-8) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC3705128  PMID: 22692818
Vascular senescence; MiR-146a; Circulating angiogenic cells; Congestive heart failure; Toll-like receptor pathway
10.  Calorie restriction in humans inhibits the PI3K/AKT pathway and induces a younger transcription profile 
Aging cell  2013;12(4):645-651.
Caloric restriction (CR) and down-regulation of the insulin/IGF pathway are the most robust interventions known to increase longevity in lower organisms. However, little is known about the molecular adaptations induced by CR in humans. Here we report that long-term CR in humans inhibits the IGF-1/insulin pathway in skeletal muscle, a key metabolic tissue. We also demonstrate that CR-induced dramatic changes of the skeletal muscle transcriptional profile that resemble those of younger individuals. Finally, in both rats and humans CR evoked similar responses in the transcriptional profiles of skeletal muscle. This common signature consisted of three key pathways typically associated with longevity: IGF-1/insulin signaling, mitochondrial biogenesis and inflammation. Furthermore, our data identifies promising pathways for therapeutic targets to combat age-related diseases and promote health in humans.
PMCID: PMC3714316  PMID: 23601134
human; caloric restriction; skeletal muscle; insulin/IGF-1 signaling
11.  Transmission from centenarians to their offspring of mtDNA heteroplasmy revealed by ultra-deep sequencing 
Aging (Albany NY)  2014;6(6):454-467.
The role that mtDNA heteroplasmy plays in healthy aging, familial longevity and the heritability patterns of low levels heteroplasmy in the elderly are largely unknown. We analyzed the low levels of mtDNA heteroplasmy in blood in a cohort of centenarians, their offspring and a group of offspring of non long-lived parents, characterized by a less favorable health phenotype. The aims of this study are to: (i) investigate the transmission of low level heteroplasmies in the elderly; (ii) explore the association of heteroplasmy with age and longevity and (iii) investigate heteroplasmy patterns in these three groups. We sequenced a 853 bp mtDNA fragment in 88 individuals to an average coverage of 49334-fold, using quality control filtering and triplicate PCR analysis to reduce any methodological bias, and we detected 119 heteroplasmic positions with a minor allele frequency ≥ 0.2%. The results indicate that low-level heteroplasmies are transmitted and maintained within families until extreme age. We did not find any heteroplasmic variant associated with longevity and healthy aging but we identified an unique heteroplasmy profile for each family, based on total level and positions. This familial profile suggests that heteroplasmy may contribute to familial longevity.
PMCID: PMC4100808  PMID: 25013208
mtDNA heteroplasmy; longevity; aging; transmission; centenarians
12.  The co-occurrence of mtDNA mutations on different oxidative phosphorylation subunits, not detected by haplogroup analysis, affects human longevity and is population specific 
Aging Cell  2013;13(3):401-407.
To re-examine the correlation between mtDNA variability and longevity, we examined mtDNAs from samples obtained from over 2200 ultranonagenarians (and an equal number of controls) collected within the framework of the GEHA EU project. The samples were categorized by high-resolution classification, while about 1300 mtDNA molecules (650 ultranonagenarians and an equal number of controls) were completely sequenced. Sequences, unlike standard haplogroup analysis, made possible to evaluate for the first time the cumulative effects of specific, concomitant mtDNA mutations, including those that per se have a low, or very low, impact. In particular, the analysis of the mutations occurring in different OXPHOS complex showed a complex scenario with a different mutation burden in 90+ subjects with respect to controls. These findings suggested that mutations in subunits of the OXPHOS complex I had a beneficial effect on longevity, while the simultaneous presence of mutations in complex I and III (which also occurs in J subhaplogroups involved in LHON) and in complex I and V seemed to be detrimental, likely explaining previous contradictory results. On the whole, our study, which goes beyond haplogroup analysis, suggests that mitochondrial DNA variation does affect human longevity, but its effect is heavily influenced by the interaction between mutations concomitantly occurring on different mtDNA genes.
PMCID: PMC4326891  PMID: 24341918
genetics of longevity; longevity; mitochondrial DNA; mtDNA sequencing; oxidative phosphorylation
13.  The nucleolar size is associated to the methylation status of ribosomal DNA in breast carcinomas 
BMC Cancer  2014;14:361.
There is a body of evidence that shows a link between tumorigenesis and ribosome biogenesis. The precursor of mature 18S, 28S and 5.8S ribosomal RNAs is transcribed from the ribosomal DNA gene (rDNA), which exists as 300–400 copies in the human diploid genome. Approximately one half of these copies are epigenetically silenced, but the exact role of epigenetic regulation on ribosome biogenesis is not completely understood. In this study we analyzed the methylation profiles of the rDNA promoter and of the 5’ regions of 18S and 28S in breast cancer.
We analyzed rDNA methylation in 68 breast cancer tissues of which the normal counterpart was partially available (45/68 samples) using the MassARRAY EpiTYPER assay, a sensitive and quantitative method with single base resolution.
We found that rDNA locus tended to be hypermethylated in tumor compared to matched normal breast tissues and that the DNA methylation level of several CpG units within the rDNA locus was associated to nuclear grade and to nucleolar size of tumor tissues. In addition we identified a subgroup of samples in which large nucleoli were associated with very limited or absent rDNA hypermethylation in tumor respect to matched normal tissue.
In conclusion, we suggest that rDNA is an important target of epigenetic regulation in breast tumors and that rDNA methylation level is associated to nucleolar size.
PMCID: PMC4062283  PMID: 24884608
14.  The Three Genetics (Nuclear DNA, Mitochondrial DNA, and Gut Microbiome) of Longevity in Humans Considered as Metaorganisms 
BioMed Research International  2014;2014:560340.
Usually the genetics of human longevity is restricted to the nuclear genome (nDNA). However it is well known that the nDNA interacts with a physically and functionally separated genome, the mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) that, even if limited in length and number of genes encoded, plays a major role in the ageing process. The complex interplay between nDNA/mtDNA and the environment is most likely involved in phenomena such as ageing and longevity. To this scenario we have to add another level of complexity represented by the microbiota, that is, the whole set of bacteria present in the different part of our body with their whole set of genes. In particular, several studies investigated the role of gut microbiota (GM) modifications in ageing and longevity and an age-related GM signature was found. In this view, human being must be considered as “metaorganism” and a more holistic approach is necessary to grasp the complex dynamics of the interaction between the environment and nDNA-mtDNA-GM of the host during ageing. In this review, the relationship between the three genetics and human longevity is addressed to point out that a comprehensive view will allow the researchers to properly address the complex interactions that occur during human lifespan.
PMCID: PMC4017728  PMID: 24868529
15.  Evidences of +896 A/G TLR4 Polymorphism as an Indicative of Prevalence of Complications in T2DM Patients 
Mediators of Inflammation  2014;2014:973139.
T2DM is today considered as world-wide health problem, with complications responsible of an enhanced mortality and morbidity. Thus, new strategies for its prevention and therapy are necessary. For this reason, the research interest has focused its attention on TLR4 and its polymorphisms, particularly the rs4986790. However, no conclusive findings have been reported until now about the role of this polymorphism in development of T2DM and its complications, even if a recent meta-analysis showed its T2DM association in Caucasians. In this study, we sought to evaluate the weight of rs4986790 polymorphism in the risk of the major T2DM complications, including 367 T2DM patients complicated for the 55.6%. Patients with A/A and A/G TLR4 genotypes showed significant differences in complication's prevalence. In particular, AG carriers had higher risk prevalence for neuropathy (P = 0.026), lower limb arteriopathy (P = 0.013), and the major cardiovascular pathologies (P = 0.017). Their cumulative risk was significant (P = 0.01), with a threefold risk to develop neuropathy, lower limb arteriopathy, and major cardiovascular events in AG cases compared to AA cases. The adjusted OR for the confounding variables was 3.788 (95% CI: 1.642–8.741). Thus, the rs4986790 polymorphism may be an indicative of prevalence of complications in T2DM patients.
PMCID: PMC3996297  PMID: 24803744
16.  Remodelling of biological parameters during human ageing: evidence for complex regulation in longevity and in type 2 diabetes 
Age  2011;35(2):419-429.
Factor structure analyses have revealed the presence of specific biological system markers in healthy humans and diseases. However, this type of approach in very old persons and in type 2 diabetes (T2DM) is lacking. A total sample of 2,137 Italians consisted of two groups: 1,604 healthy and 533 with T2DM. Age (years) was categorized as adults (≤65), old (66–85), oldest old (>85–98) and centenarians (≥99). Specific biomarkers of routine haematological and biochemical testing were tested across each age group. Exploratory factorial analysis (EFA) by principal component method with Varimax rotation was used to identify factors including related variables. Structural equation modelling (SEM) was applied to confirm factor solutions for each age group. EFA and SEM identified specific factor structures according to age in both groups. An age-associated reduction of factor structure was observed from adults to oldest old in the healthy group (explained variance 60.4% vs 50.3%) and from adults to old in the T2DM group (explained variance 57.4% vs 44.2%). Centenarians showed three-factor structure similar to those of adults (explained variance 58.4%). The inflammatory component became the major factor in old group and was the first one in T2DM. SEM analysis in healthy subjects suggested that the glucose levels had an important role in the oldest old. Factorial structure change during healthy ageing was associated with a decrease in complexity but showed an increase in variability and inflammation. Structural relationship changes observed in healthy subjects appeared earlier in diabetic patients and later in centenarians.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1007/s11357-011-9348-8) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC3592946  PMID: 22174010
Ageing; Exploratory factor analysis; Structural equation modelling; Centenarians; Diabetic patients
17.  Genome-wide linkage analysis for human longevity: Genetics of Healthy Ageing Study 
Aging cell  2013;12(2):184-193.
Clear evidence exists for heritability of human longevity, and much interest is focused on identifying genes associated with longer lives. To identify such longevity alleles, we performed the largest genome-wide linkage scan thus far reported. Linkage analyses included 2118 nonagenarian Caucasian sibling pairs that have been enrolled in fifteen study centers of eleven European countries as part of the Genetics of Healthy Ageing (GEHA) project. In the joint linkage analyses we observed four regions that show linkage with longevity; chromosome 14q11.2 (LOD=3.47), chromosome 17q12-q22 (LOD=2.95), chromosome 19p13.3-p13.11 (LOD=3.76) and chromosome 19q13.11-q13.32 (LOD=3.57). To fine map these regions linked to longevity, we performed association analysis using GWAS data in a subgroup of 1,228 unrelated nonagenarian and 1,907 geographically matched controls. Using a fixed effect meta-analysis approach, rs4420638 at the TOMM40/APOE/APOC1 gene locus showed significant association with longevity (p-value=9.6 × 10−8). By combined modeling of linkage and association we showed that association of longevity with APOEε4 and APOEε2 alleles explain the linkage at 19q13.11-q13.32 with p-value=0.02 and p-value=1.0 × 10−5, respectively. In the largest linkage scan thus far performed for human familial longevity, we confirm that the APOE locus is a longevity gene and that additional longevity loci may be identified at 14q11.2, 17q12-q22 and 19p13.3-p13.11. Since the latter linkage results are not explained by common variants, we suggest that rare variants play an important role in human familial longevity.
PMCID: PMC3725963  PMID: 23286790
Human familial longevity; genome-wide linkage analysis; APOE gene; association analysis; nonagenarian sibling pairs
18.  Mitochondria hyperfusion and elevated autophagic activity are key mechanisms for cellular bioenergetic preservation in centenarians 
Aging (Albany NY)  2014;6(4):296-310.
Mitochondria have been considered for long time as important determinants of cell aging because of their role in the production of reactive oxygen species. In this study we investigated the impact of mitochondrial metabolism and biology as determinants of successful aging in primary cultures of fibroblasts isolated from the skin of long living individuals (LLI) (about 100 years old) compared with those from young (about 27 years old) and old (about 75 years old) subjects. We observed that fibroblasts from LLI displayed significantly lower complex I-driven ATP synthesis and higher production of H2O2 in comparison with old subjects. Despite these changes, bioenergetics of these cells appeared to operate normally. This lack of functional consequences was likely due to a compensatory phenomenon at the level of mitochondria, which displayed a maintained supercomplexes organization and an increased mass. This appears to be due to a decreased mitophagy, induced by hyperfused, elongated mitochondria. The overall data indicate that longevity is characterized by a preserved bioenergetic function likely attained by a successful mitochondria remodeling that can compensate for functional defects through an increase in mass, i.e. a sort of mitochondrial “hypertrophy”.
PMCID: PMC4032796  PMID: 24799450
mitochondria; reactive oxygen species; dermal fibroblasts; human aging; longevity; bioenergetics; autophagy; mitophagy
19.  Genome-wide association meta-analysis of human longevity identifies a novel locus conferring survival beyond 90 years of age 
Deelen, Joris | Beekman, Marian | Uh, Hae-Won | Broer, Linda | Ayers, Kristin L. | Tan, Qihua | Kamatani, Yoichiro | Bennet, Anna M. | Tamm, Riin | Trompet, Stella | Guðbjartsson, Daníel F. | Flachsbart, Friederike | Rose, Giuseppina | Viktorin, Alexander | Fischer, Krista | Nygaard, Marianne | Cordell, Heather J. | Crocco, Paolina | van den Akker, Erik B. | Böhringer, Stefan | Helmer, Quinta | Nelson, Christopher P. | Saunders, Gary I. | Alver, Maris | Andersen-Ranberg, Karen | Breen, Marie E. | van der Breggen, Ruud | Caliebe, Amke | Capri, Miriam | Cevenini, Elisa | Collerton, Joanna C. | Dato, Serena | Davies, Karen | Ford, Ian | Gampe, Jutta | Garagnani, Paolo | de Geus, Eco J.C. | Harrow, Jennifer | van Heemst, Diana | Heijmans, Bastiaan T. | Heinsen, Femke-Anouska | Hottenga, Jouke-Jan | Hofman, Albert | Jeune, Bernard | Jonsson, Palmi V. | Lathrop, Mark | Lechner, Doris | Martin-Ruiz, Carmen | Mcnerlan, Susan E. | Mihailov, Evelin | Montesanto, Alberto | Mooijaart, Simon P. | Murphy, Anne | Nohr, Ellen A. | Paternoster, Lavinia | Postmus, Iris | Rivadeneira, Fernando | Ross, Owen A. | Salvioli, Stefano | Sattar, Naveed | Schreiber, Stefan | Stefánsson, Hreinn | Stott, David J. | Tiemeier, Henning | Uitterlinden, André G. | Westendorp, Rudi G.J. | Willemsen, Gonneke | Samani, Nilesh J. | Galan, Pilar | Sørensen, Thorkild I.A. | Boomsma, Dorret I. | Jukema, J. Wouter | Rea, Irene Maeve | Passarino, Giuseppe | de Craen, Anton J.M. | Christensen, Kaare | Nebel, Almut | Stefánsson, Kári | Metspalu, Andres | Magnusson, Patrik | Blanché, Hélène | Christiansen, Lene | Kirkwood, Thomas B.L. | van Duijn, Cornelia M. | Franceschi, Claudio | Houwing-Duistermaat, Jeanine J. | Slagboom, P. Eline
Human Molecular Genetics  2014;23(16):4420-4432.
The genetic contribution to the variation in human lifespan is ∼25%. Despite the large number of identified disease-susceptibility loci, it is not known which loci influence population mortality. We performed a genome-wide association meta-analysis of 7729 long-lived individuals of European descent (≥85 years) and 16 121 younger controls (<65 years) followed by replication in an additional set of 13 060 long-lived individuals and 61 156 controls. In addition, we performed a subset analysis in cases aged ≥90 years. We observed genome-wide significant association with longevity, as reflected by survival to ages beyond 90 years, at a novel locus, rs2149954, on chromosome 5q33.3 (OR = 1.10, P = 1.74 × 10−8). We also confirmed association of rs4420638 on chromosome 19q13.32 (OR = 0.72, P = 3.40 × 10−36), representing the TOMM40/APOE/APOC1 locus. In a prospective meta-analysis (n = 34 103), the minor allele of rs2149954 (T) on chromosome 5q33.3 associates with increased survival (HR = 0.95, P = 0.003). This allele has previously been reported to associate with low blood pressure in middle age. Interestingly, the minor allele (T) associates with decreased cardiovascular mortality risk, independent of blood pressure. We report on the first GWAS-identified longevity locus on chromosome 5q33.3 influencing survival in the general European population. The minor allele of this locus associates with low blood pressure in middle age, although the contribution of this allele to survival may be less dependent on blood pressure. Hence, the pleiotropic mechanisms by which this intragenic variation contributes to lifespan regulation have to be elucidated.
PMCID: PMC4103672  PMID: 24688116
20.  Activity of mannose-binding lectin (MBL) in centenarians 
Aging cell  2012;11(3):394-400.
We analyzed MBL2 gene variants in two cohorts of centenarians, octo-and nonagenarians and in the general population, one from Sardinia island (Italy), recruited in the frame of the AKea study, and another from Campania (southern Italy), to search for haplotypes related to longevity. We also assessed in vitro the effect of mannose-binding lectin (MBL) on various human cells at different stage of senescence. The frequency of high and null activity haplotypes was significantly lower and the frequency of intermediate activity haplotype significantly higher in centenarians and in subjects between 80 and 99 years from both the cohorts as compared each to the general population from the same geographic area. Furthermore, serum MBL concentration (also after normalization to serum albumin) was significantly lower in centenarians and in octo- and nonagenarians as compared to the general population suggesting that intermediate MBL haplotype/activity may be protective. We also demonstrated that in vitro MBL protein bound to senescent IMR90 fibroblasts thereby causing cell lysis, but not to other types of cycle-arrested cells not in senescence. This implicates a novel role of MBL in the clearance of senescent cells.
PMCID: PMC3935210  PMID: 22239660
aging; senescence; innate immunity; MBL; haplotypes
22.  Serum profiling of healthy aging identifies phospho- and sphingolipid species as markers of human longevity 
Aging (Albany NY)  2014;6(1):9-25.
As centenarians well represent the model of healthy aging, there are many important implications in revealing the underlying molecular mechanisms behind such successful aging. By combining NMR metabonomics and shot-gun lipidomics in serum we analyzed metabolome and lipidome composition of a group of centenarians with respect to elderly individuals. Specifically, NMR metabonomics profiling of serum revealed that centenarians are characterized by a metabolic phenotype distinct from that of elderly subjects, in particular regarding amino acids and lipid species. Shot- gun lipidomics approach displays unique changes in lipids biosynthesis in centenarians, with 41 differently abundant lipid species with respect to elderly subjects. These findings reveal phospho/sphingolipids as putative markers and biological modulators of healthy aging, in humans. Considering the particular actions of these metabolites, these data are suggestive of a better counteractive antioxidant capacity and a well-developed membrane lipid remodelling process in the healthy aging phenotype.
PMCID: PMC3927806  PMID: 24457528
Healthy Aging; metabolomics; lipidomics; biomarkers; inflammageing
23.  Towards a Liquid Self: How Time, Geography, and Life Experiences Reshape the Biological Identity 
The conceptualization of immunological self is amongst the most important theories of modern biology, representing a sort of theoretical guideline for experimental immunologists, in order to understand how host constituents are ignored by the immune system (IS). A consistent advancement in this field has been represented by the danger/damage theory and its subsequent refinements, which at present represents the most comprehensive conceptualization of immunological self. Here, we present the new hypothesis of “liquid self,” which integrates and extends the danger/damage theory. The main novelty of the liquid self hypothesis lies in the full integration of the immune response mechanisms into the host body’s ecosystems, i.e., in adding the temporal, as well as the geographical/evolutionary and environmental, dimensions, which we suggested to call “immunological biography.” Our hypothesis takes into account the important biological changes occurring with time (age) in the IS (including immunosenescence and inflammaging), as well as changes in the organismal context related to nutrition, lifestyle, and geography (populations). We argue that such temporal and geographical dimensions impinge upon, and continuously reshape, the antigenicity of physical entities (molecules, cells, bacteria, viruses), making them switching between “self” and “non-self” states in a dynamical, “liquid” fashion. Particular attention is devoted to oral tolerance and gut microbiota, as well as to a new potential source of unexpected self epitopes produced by proteasome splicing. Finally, our framework allows the set up of a variety of testable predictions, the most straightforward suggesting that the immune responses to defined molecules representing potentials antigens will be quantitatively and qualitatively quite different according to the immuno-biographical background of the host.
PMCID: PMC3988364  PMID: 24782860
self; non-self; antigen presentation; gut microbiota; host–pathogen interaction; N-glycan; oral tolerance; proteasome splicing
24.  Pre-Operative, High-IL-6 Blood Level is a Risk Factor of Post-Operative Delirium Onset in Old Patients 
Background: Post-operative delirium (POD) is a common complication in elderly patients undergoing surgery, but the underpinning causes are not clear. We hypothesized that inflammaging, the subclinical low and chronic grade inflammation characteristic of old people, can contribute to POD onset. Accordingly, we investigated the association of pre-operative and circulating cytokines in elderly patients (>65 years), admitted for elective and emergency surgery.
Methods: This is a secondary analysis of a sub-cohort of patients belonging to a previous large case–control study, where 351 patients were clinically and cognitively thoroughly characterized, together with the assessment of POD (47 patients) by confusion assessment method and delirium rating scale. Seventy-four pre-operative plasma samples were selected from a larger bio-bank and they included 37 subjects with POD and 37 without POD. Inflammaging related cytokines, i.e., IL-1β, IL-2, IL-6, IL-8, IL-10, and TNF-α, were assayed by ELISA in pre-operative blood samples; univariate and multivariable analyses have been applied to identify cytokines independently associated to POD. Associations of cytokine levels with functional status, cognitive decline, intra-hospital mortality, and comorbidity were also analyzed independently of POD onset.
Results: High IL-6 and low-IL-2 levels were significantly associated with POD. After adjustment for potential confounders in multivariate analysis, high level of pre-operative IL-6 was confirmed to be significantly associated with risk of POD onset. High level of IL-6 was also associated with several baseline features (including poor functional status, cognitive impairment, emergency admission, and higher comorbidity burden) and intra-hospital mortality.
Conclusion: Pre-operative, high-plasma level of IL-6 (≥9 pg/mL) was significantly associated with POD onset. We propose IL-6 as an additional risk factor of POD onset together with the previously identified factors. Discovery of all risk factors contributing to POD onset will permit to improve hospitalized patient management and the decrease of healthcare cost.
PMCID: PMC4201145  PMID: 25368603
post-operative delirium; IL-6; inflammatory cytokines; aging; inflammaging
25.  Naïve and memory CD8 T cell pool homeostasis in advanced aging: impact of age and of antigen-specific responses to cytomegalovirus 
Age  2013;36(2):625-640.
Alterations in the circulating CD8+ T cell pool, with a loss of naïve and accumulation of effector/effector memory cells, are pronounced in older adults. However, homeostatic forces that dictate such changes remain incompletely understood. This observational cross-sectional study explored the basis for variability of CD8+ T cell number and composition of its main subsets: naïve, central memory and effector memory T cells, in 131 cytomegalovirus (CMV) seropositive subjects aged over 60 years. We found great heterogeneity of CD8+ T cell numbers, which was mainly due to variability of the CD8 + CD28− T cell subset regardless of age. Analysis, by multiple regression, of distinct factors revealed that age was a predictor for the loss in absolute number of naïve T cells, but was not associated with changes in central or effector memory CD8+ T cell subsets. By contrast, the size of CD8+ T cells specific to pp65 and IE-1 antigens of CMV, predicted CD28 − CD8+ T cell, antigen-experienced CD8+ T cell, and even total CD8+ T cell numbers, but not naïve CD8+ T cell loss. These results indicate a clear dichotomy between the homeostasis of naïve and antigen-experienced subsets of CD8+ T cells which are independently affected, in human later life, by age and antigen-specific responses to CMV, respectively.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1007/s11357-013-9594-z) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC4039262  PMID: 24318918
Aging; Age; Cytomegalovirus; Homeostasis; Memory CD8 T cell; Naïve CD8 T cell

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