World's Oldest People May Have Supercharged Immune Cells

livescience.com | 11/15/2019 | Stephanie Pappas - Live Science Contributor
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The secret to living past 110 may be an increase in killer cells in the bloodstream.

New research finds that "supercentenarians," or people who make it to 110 years of age or older, have higher-than-typical concentrations of a particularly rare type of T helper cell in their blood. These immune cells might protect the oldest of the old against viruses and tumors, leaving them in remarkably fine health throughout their long life spans.

Key - Cells - Target - Life - Co-authors

"The key will be to understand what is [the cells'] their natural target, which may help to reveal what is needed for a healthy, long life," study co-authors Kosuke Hashimoto, Nobuyoshi Hirose and Piero Carninci wrote in a joint email to Live Science.

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Because supercentenarians are rare, it's difficult to collect cellular samples from them. The new study focused on whole blood collection, because blood draws are relatively simple. The researchers isolated immune cells from the blood of seven supercentenarians and five control participants, ranging in age from their 50s to their 80s.

Scientists - Method - Single-cell - Transcriptomics - Cells

The scientists then used an advanced method called single-cell transcriptomics to find out what each of the immune cells was doing — individually. This method measures the messenger RNA produced by the hundreds of thousands of genes within a cell. Messenger RNA is the go-between that translates the genetic instructions of DNA to the nucleus of the cell, which uses those instructions to build proteins. By essentially reading the messages of the messenger RNA, researchers can determine the activities of each cell, effectively identifying it and its function.

The samples netted more than 41,000 immune cells from the seven supercentenarians and nearly 20,000 more from the younger control subjects. The standout finding, the authors said, was that a large...
(Excerpt) Read more at: livescience.com
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