Nature Reviews Genetics 7, 436-448 (June 2006) | doi:10.1038/nrg1871

The quest for genetic determinants of human longevity: challenges and insights

Kaare Christensen1, Thomas E. Johnson2 & James W. Vaupel3  About the authors


Twin studies show that genetic differences account for about a quarter of the variance in adult human lifespan. Common polymorphisms that have a modest effect on lifespan have been identified in one gene, APOE, providing hope that other genetic determinants can be uncovered. However, although variants with substantial beneficial effects have been proposed to exist and several candidates have been put forward, their effects have yet to be confirmed. Human studies of longevity face numerous theoretical and logistical challenges, as the determinants of lifespan are extraordinarily complex. However, large-scale linkage studies of long-lived families, longitudinal candidate-gene association studies and the development of analytical methods provide the potential for future progress.

Author affiliations

  1. Epidemiology, Institute of Public Health, University of Southern Denmark, J.B. Winslows Vej 9B, 5000 Odense C, Denmark.
  2. Institute for Behavioral Genetics, Department of Integrative Physiology, University of Colorado, Boulder, Colorado 80309-0447, USA.
  3. Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Konrad-Zuse-Strasse, 18057 Rostock, Germany.

Correspondence to: Kaare Christensen1 Email:


These links to content published by NPG are automatically generated.


Asking the age-old questions

Nature Genetics News and Views (01 Jun 2001)

Physiology Cost-free longevity in mice?

Nature News and Views (09 Jan 2003)

See all 5 matches for News And Views