Scientists in Japan studied 41 000 cells seven people older than 110 years. They found that the immune system of centenarians has unique anti-cancer and anti-infective abilities.
Study of the DNA “of supercentenarians” — those over 110 — has shown that their white blood cells. It was found that their T cells attack viruses and cancer cells, whereas the ordinary man they don’t.
The scientists said that their results help them understand how people can live to such a ripe old age, and can specify how to help others live longer.
Researchers from the Center for integrative medical Sciences RIKEN and Keio University, both in Japan, conducted a study involving seven centenarians. They collected a total of 41 208 cells in elderly participants and examined how they differ from cells taken from people aged from 50 to 89 years.
The main difference that they found was that the type of cell, called CD4 T-cells was much more common among people older than 110 years. These cells were not only more frequent; they were more dangerous than young men.
While CD4 T cells are usually “helper cells” that help other white blood cells to fight infection, the centenarians they were toxic and were actively searched for and eliminated viruses and potentially cancer cells.