Two types of centenarians

While the biomarker profiles of centenarians were very similar, the researchers found that there are two clusters of centenarians. They differed in biomarkers apart from the ones that distinguished them from non-centenarians: total cholesterol, albumin, and TBIC.

“These biomarkers are all related to nutrition,” said the study’s first author, Dr. Shunsuke Murata. “One group were more similar to non-centenarians, and we named it ‘higher nutrition.’ The other group had somewhat more favorable levels, and we named it ‘lower but enough nutrition.’”

“We can only speculate on what is behind the difference, for example, caloric restriction,” he noted.

The meaning of centenarians’ metabolic sweet spot

“When we stress that centenarians overall experienced more compressed values, we mean that they more seldom displayed extreme values of the biomarkers. For example, almost none of the centenarians had a glucose above seven earlier in life, while such extreme values were more common in non-centenarians,” Dr. Murata explained.

Perhaps this affected non-centenarians’ relative lack of longevity, he said.

“It is difficult to say if the absence of extreme values point towards lifestyle. But the findings of overall more favorable values for centenarians, and the fact that these markers are related to diet and lifestyle, it is possible — or perhaps even likely — that such factors have an impact. What we cannot know is to what extent genetic factors interact with this.”
— Dr. Shunsuke Murata

The fact, however, that centenarians’ biomarker profiles are in place so much earlier in life may provide a clue.

“This speaks against chance only, or genetic only, as factors for reaching exceptional age,” hypothesized Dr. Murata.

“To fully answer the question of why, we would need more information, ideally about genetics, lifestyle factors, and biomarkers within the same cohort of people,” he added.

Meanwhile, other researchers are focused specifically on lifestyle and longevity, asserting that lifestyle and diet play a significant role.