Editor-in-Chief: Dimitri P. Mikhailidis Academic Head, Department of Clinical Biochemistry Royal Free Hospital Campus University College London Medical School University College London (UCL) Pond Street London, NW3 2QG UK
Affiliation: Researcher of Clinical Pathology, Department of Pathobiology and medical and forensic Biotechnologies (DIBIMEF), University of Palermo, Corso Tukory, 211, 90134 Palermo.
A main objective of current medical research is to improve the life quality of elderly people as priority of the continuous increase of ageing population. This phenomenon implies several medical, economic and social problems because of dramatic increase in number of non autonomous individuals affected by various pathologies. Accordingly, the research interest is focused on understanding the biological mechanisms involved in determining the positive ageing phenotype, i.e. the centenarian phenotype. In achieving this goal the choice of an appropriate study models is fundamental. Centenarians have been used as an optimal model for successful ageing. However, this model shows several limitations, i.e. the selection of appropriate controls and the use itself of the centenarians as a suitable model for healthy ageing. Thus, the interest has been centered on centenarian offspring, healthy elderly people. They may represent a model for understanding exceptional longevity for the following reasons: they exhibit a protective genetic background, cardiovascular and immunological profile, as well as a reduced rate of cognitive decline than age-matched people without centenarian relatives. Several of these aspects are summarized in this review based on the literature and the results of our studies.