The puzzle of how some people live healthily for 100 years or more it may have finally been solved by scientists.
Tests have shown that the blood of over XNUMX year olds has unusually high doses of immune cells. These they constitute constant defenses against viruses, bacteria and tumors. From this observation, a small series of new medical discoveries was born.
Most people have a type of cell in their blood known as a CD4 T cell. This functions as a "sentinel" that looks for infections and then "calls to arms" the immune cells that wipe out the disease.
In search of the secret of longevity.
A study of 7 supercentenarians (110 years or older) showed that a large number of their CD4 T cells arm themselves against pathogens, giving the immune system a huge boost.
The researchers found that the longest-lived have a much higher number of these cell types, around 25% compared to less than 10% for the average person.
Kosuke Hashimoto, from the Riken Center for Integrative Medical Science (IMS), Japan, says: “We are particularly interested in studying this group of people, because we see them as a good model of healthy aging. This is important in societies like Japan, where aging proceeds rapidly. If we can find the link between the immune system and aging and longevity, we will be able to help extend healthy life expectancy. "
A super defense.
In other words, the new study suggests that a superprotective immune system may be the real reason behind extraordinary longevity.
The ability of supercentenarians to better fight infections and cancer has led researchers to wonder if their immune systems were fundamentally different.
The Japanese team examined over 40.000 immune cells circulating in a group of super long-lived people, and compared them with those of a younger subject (between 50 and 80 years of age).
The researchers found that the supercentenarians had a very high level of cytotoxic cells sometimes as high as 80% of all T cells (an important type of immune cell) compared with 10-20% in the other subjects.
The team examined the blood cells of 2 supercentenarians in detail. The aim was to see how these special cells were made. The discovery? Most had been cloned from a single ancestor cell.
The Deputy Director of IMS, Center for Integrative Medical Sciences Piero CarninciSaid: “We believe that this type of cell, which is relatively rare in most individuals, even when young, is useful for fighting tumors. They may be important for immunosurveillance. This has given us new insights. For example, on how long-lived people are able to protect themselves from conditions such as infections and cancer ".
The next step
Researchers now want to find out how supercentenarians acquire specialized cells. Above all, if we can reproduce the process to improve health and extend everyone's life. Maybe with hyper-technological solutions such as nanobots that "move" these cells in the blood.