What is the secret to longevity? Researchers Kosuke Hashimoto, Nobuyoshi Hirose and Piero Carninci believe that the answer to live more than 110 years may be an increase in killer cells na blood flow.

The researchers found that “supercentenarians”, People who reach 110 years of age or older, have higher than normal concentrations of a particularly rare type of auxiliary T cell in the blood. These cells immunological can protect elders against virus e tumors, leaving them with a remarkably good health.


"The key will be to understand what the [cell's] natural target is, which can help reveal what is needed for a long and healthy life," wrote the study's authors. Live Science.

As the supercentenarians are rare, it is difficult to collect your cell samples. Therefore, the new study focused on blood collection as it is relatively simple to perform. The researchers isolated the immune system cells blood from seven supercentenarians and five control participants, aged between 50 and 80 years. 

After that, scientists use an advanced method called single cell transcriptomics to discover the actions of each immune cell. This method measures the Messenger RNA produced by genes inside a cell and, by reading these "messages" sent by RNA, researchers can determine the activities of each cell, effectively identifying it and its function.

Immune protection

In total, more than 41 immune cells from the seven supercentenarians who participated in the study, versus the 20 cells of the younger control subjects. The prominent finding, according to the authors, was that a large proportion of the supercentenarian immune cells were a set called CD4 CTLs, a type of auxiliary T cell that can directly attack and kill other threat cells. “This is surprising, because they are usually a type of rare cell”, They stated.

The large group of CD4 cells, or helper T cells, are generally not combatants, but act as commanders, telling others immune cells what to do. However, CTLs and CD4 are cytotoxic, which means that they are capable of actually attacking and destroying the invaders themselves.

supercentenariansNear 25% of all auxiliary Ts have this “killer” version, in contrast with 2,8% of presence in younger people, according to published in the scientific journal Proceedings, from the National Academy of Sciences.

It is worth mentioning that the study cannot prove that immune cells are the direct cause of extreme longevity. The researchers analyzed the blood of a centenary that also showed the “normal” immune pattern.

In addition, the sample size is small, but it is already proven that cytotoxic T cells attack tumor cells and protect against viruses in mice. Now, the next step is to find out what these cells do in humans.


Street: Live Science