Scientists study gene clues from 115-year-old woman - 21 News Now, More Local News for Youngstown, Ohio -

Scientists study gene clues from 115-year-old woman

WEDNESDAY, April 23, 2014 (HealthDay News) -- More than 400 mutations were found in the healthy white blood cells of a 115-year-old woman, according to a new study that may advance what is known about limits of the human life span.

Genetic mutations have been linked to diseases such as cancer, but these findings suggest that mutations in white blood cells are largely harmless over a lifetime, the researchers said.

Blood is continually replenished by hematopoietic (meaning "to make blood") stem cells that are inside the bone marrow and divide to produce different types of blood cells.

Cell division can lead to genetic mutations and hundreds of mutations have been found in patients with blood cancers. However, little was known about white blood cells and mutations.

The woman in the study was the oldest person in the world when she died in 2005. She is thought to be the oldest person ever to donate her body to science. The hundreds of mutations identified in her white blood cells appeared to be tolerated by the body and did not cause disease.

The researchers also found possible new insight into the limits of human longevity, according to the authors of the study published online April 23 in the journal Genome Research.

"To our great surprise we found that, at the time of her death, the peripheral blood was derived from only two active hematopoietic stem cells (in contrast to an estimated 1,300 simultaneously active stem cells), which were related to each other," lead author Dr. Henne Holstege said in a journal news release.

The researchers also found that the woman's white blood cells' telomeres were extremely short. Telomeres, which are at the ends of chromosomes and protect them from damage, get a bit shorter each time a cell divides.

"Because these blood cells had extremely short telomeres, we speculate that most hematopoietic stem cells may have died from 'stem cell exhaustion,' reaching the upper limit of stem cell divisions," Holstege said.

Further research is needed to learn whether such stem cell exhaustion is a cause of death in extremely old people.

More information

The U.S. National Library of Medicine has more about gene mutations.

Copyright © 2014 HealthDay. All rights reserved.

*DISCLAIMER*: The information contained in or provided through this site section is intended for general consumer understanding and education only and is not intended to be and is not a substitute for professional advice. Use of this site section and any information contained on or provided through this site section is at your own risk and any information contained on or provided through this site section is provided on an "as is" basis without any representations or warranties.
  • More From wfmj.comMore>>

  • Talking bird helped break school abduction case

    Talking bird helped break school abduction case

    Saturday, August 30 2014 5:51 PM EDT2014-08-30 21:51:32 GMT
    A Philadelphia detective has testified about a foul-mouthed bird that helped lead police to the woman charged with abducting a 5-year-old from school.More >>
    A Philadelphia detective has testified about a foul-mouthed bird that helped lead police to the woman charged with abducting a 5-year-old from school.
    More >>
  • Toledo zoo welcomes 100-year-old tortoise

    Toledo zoo welcomes 100-year-old tortoise

    Thursday, August 28 2014 8:11 AM EDT2014-08-28 12:11:09 GMT
    TOLEDO, Ohio (AP) - The newest resident of the Toledo Zoo is a 100-year-old dome-shelled Galapagos tortoise that weighs in at 440 pounds. The tortoise, named Emerson, arrived at the zoo Wednesday night from the San Diego Zoo. He was escorted by Toledo Zoo personnel on his flight to Detroit before being driven to Toledo and uncrated inside a heated shed. Handlers welcomed him with carrot and sweet potato treats and a neck rub. The (Toledo) Blade reports Emerson is the zoo's first Galapagos to...More >>
    TOLEDO, Ohio (AP) - The newest resident of the Toledo Zoo is a 100-year-old dome-shelled Galapagos tortoise that weighs in at 440 pounds. The tortoise, named Emerson, arrived at the zoo Wednesday night from the San Diego Zoo. He was escorted by Toledo Zoo personnel on his flight to Detroit before being driven to Toledo and uncrated inside a heated shed. Handlers welcomed him with carrot and sweet potato treats and a neck rub. The (Toledo) Blade reports Emerson is the zoo's first Galapagos to...More >>
  • Ohio serial rapist gets 135 years in prison

    Ohio serial rapist gets 135 years in prison

    Thursday, August 28 2014 8:10 AM EDT2014-08-28 12:10:21 GMT
    CLEVELAND (AP) - A man who was linked to seven Cleveland-area rapes when authorities reopened hundreds of previously unsolved rape cases has been sentenced to up to 135 years in prison. The sentence by a judge in Cuyahoga County on Wednesday means 69-year-old Robert Green likely will never get out of prison. He was indicted in five of the cases in November and two more in May. He pleaded guilty. The (Cleveland) Plain Dealer reports that the rapes occurred over nearly a decade. They were unso...More >>
    CLEVELAND (AP) - A man who was linked to seven Cleveland-area rapes when authorities reopened hundreds of previously unsolved rape cases has been sentenced to up to 135 years in prison. The sentence by a judge in Cuyahoga County on Wednesday means 69-year-old Robert Green likely will never get out of prison. He was indicted in five of the cases in November and two more in May. He pleaded guilty. The (Cleveland) Plain Dealer reports that the rapes occurred over nearly a decade. They were unso...More >>
Powered by WorldNow
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014 Worldnow and WFMJ. All Rights Reserved. For more information on this site, please read our Privacy Policy and Terms