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Keywords:

  • aging;
  • association study;
  • centenarians;
  • FOXO3A;
  • long-lived individuals

Summary

In mammals, the forkhead box class O (FOXO) family of transcription factors consists of the four members FOXO1, FOXO3A, FOXO4, and FOXO6. The FOXO genes are homologues of daf-16, a key regulator of the insulin-IGF1 signaling pathway and a modulator of lifespan in Caenorhabditis elegans. Recently, variants in FOXO3A have consistently been associated with human longevity in various populations worldwide. Given this confirmed finding, it is conceivable that polymorphisms in the other FOXO genes might have a similar effect on human longevity. To evaluate whether allelic variation in FOXO1, FOXO4, and FOXO6 influences the ability to become long-lived, we performed a comprehensive haplotype-tagging analysis of the three genes in a group of 1447 centenarians/nonagenarians and 1029 younger controls from Germany. This is the first investigation to analyze a possible association of human longevity with FOXO4 and FOXO6, respectively, and the largest and most comprehensive study to date to assess the genetic contribution of FOXO1 to the phenotype. Our results suggest that in Germans, none of the three genes plays a significant role in the ability to reach old age. With regard to FOXO1, this observation is supported by data from an Italian sample and is consistent with several previous reports, but appears to be in contrast to a recent study of Han Chinese. The discrepant association findings in Europeans and Chinese may be explained by their different FOXO1 linkage disequilibrium structures and could indicate a Chinese- or Asian-specific effect.