Encyclopedia of Gerontology and Population Aging

Living Edition
| Editors: Danan Gu, Matthew E. Dupre

Centenarian Rate, Life Expectancy, and Autoimmune Diseases

  • Lilia S. Lens-PechakovaEmail author
Living reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-69892-2_470-1

Overview

The autoimmune diseases are among the ten leading causes of death for women and are the number two cause of chronic illness in America (Gameiro et al. 2010; Walsh and Rau 2000). With underlying mechanisms of an immune response against own cells and tissues, autoimmunity is partially responsible and a predisposing factor for the development of other diseases, like cardiovascular diseases, cancer, and respiratory diseases, including asthma, which are the three leading causes for noncommunicable diseases’ deaths (Lim et al. 2014; García-Gómez et al. 2014; Sun et al. 2014; Rose 2002). Diabetes is the fourth leading cause of death in Europe (World Health Organization 2014), with a growing incidence of autoimmune type 1 diabetes (Katz and Laffel 2015; Chiang et al. 2014). Autoimmunity is the underlying cause of more than 100 serious, chronic diseases (Rose 2002). Their influence on the longevity could be determined by use of longevity parameters (Lens-Pechakova 2016). The number of living centenarians or the centenarian rate (Kim 2013) as well as the life expectancy data (Livingstone et al. 2015) can be used as a measure of longevity. Clarifying the connection between different parameters of longevity and autoimmune diseases could promote healthy aging and longer lifespan.

Key Research Findings

The autoimmune diseases being almost hundred different diseases attacking all different organs are rarely being studied as a group and are conventionally treated by separate medical specialties according to the type of organ involved (Rose 2002). Their connection with the patients’ lifespan has been noted by some scientists: A significant correlation has been found between childhood type 1 diabetes incidence rates and infant mortality and wealth (Patterson et al. 2001). Data on rheumatoid arthritis and multiple sclerosis (Thewissen et al. 2005) and on autoimmune type 1 diabetes (Katz and Laffel 2015) have shown that the patients who showed premature senescence have a higher mortality or shorter lifespans (Livingstone et al. 2015).

Studies on different autoimmune diseases have shown that they are multifactorial results from interactions between genetic (Corradin et al. 2013; Okada et al. 2013), epigenetic (De Santis and Selmi 2012), environmental (Tobón et al. 2010), economic, and other factors, factors potentially affecting longevity and other immune system disorders (See “Immune Aging and Autoimmunity”). Mutations in human sirtuins, best known for their role in aging, were also found causing a familial form of autoimmune diabetes (Hughes and Herold 2013). Studies have suggested that the role of gender in autoimmune diseases (Wilhelmson et al. 2018; Zhen and Christopher 2012) and in the regulation of longevity may be linked to gender-specific differences and the factors that affect the development of autoimmune diseases and the regulation of longevity may share common mechanistic pathways.

Patients with some autoimmune diseases could be used as a model of accelerated immunosenescence (Thewissen et al. 2005; Bulati et al. 2011).

Centenarians, from the other side, are used as a model of successful aging (See “Centenarians”), having better preserved several immune parameters (Bulati et al. 2011; Caruso et al. 2012). Centenarians are known to show very low levels of organ-specific autoantibodies (Condo 2019; Lisa et al. 2009; Mariotti et al. 1992). Centenarians have a higher inflammatory response than any other group of old individuals, but the counter-regulatory anti-inflammatory response is also stronger than in the others (Arai et al. 2015). Even with heavily dysregulated immune response, a person may live until 100 years if the network of regulation is compensating for the changes. Centenarians are the living example of the role of the well- balanced immune system in the aging process (Fulop et al. 2019).

Preserving the integrity of the immune system over the lifespan is central for the survival of the organism (See “Human Immune System in Aging”). Despite the large numbers of mostly cross-sectional studies comparing various parameters between young and old immunity, biomarkers of immunosenescence that have been shown to really correlate with clinical outcomes are rare in the extreme (Pawelec 2018). Use of centenarian rate instead of number of centenarians enabled the control of migration and infant mortality on the population numbers (Kim 2013). Centenarian rate (CR) can be calculated by dividing the number of centenarians in a given year by the number of people aged 50–54 living 50 years before that year, multiplied by 10,000 (Kim 2013; Lens-Pechakova 2016), which can be used as parameter of longevity.

Multidisciplinary analyses of data on the accelerated or delayed aging could show a distinct relation pattern, help to identify common factors, and determine new important ones that contribute to longevity and healthy aging. One recent study examined the relationships between the levels of mortality rates of multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis, asthma, and the incidence of type 1 diabetes from one side and the longevity measured by centenarian rate and life expectancy from the other side (Lens-Pechakova 2016). The results show a clear tendency of diminishing the centenarian rate (CR) and the life expectancy in countries where the incidence of type 1 diabetes (T1D) in children of age 0–14 years and the death rates of multiple sclerosis (MS), rheumatoid arthritis (RA), and asthma are higher. The associations with the two sets correlated centenarian rates correspond to an inverse correlation with different degrees of linearity. The Pearson correlation coefficients r and r∗ corresponding to the two sets centenarian rates CR and CR∗ are as follows: for (r∗) MS (r = −0.37 and r∗ = −0.38), for T1D (r = −0.33 and r∗ = −0.16), for asthma (r = −0.34 and r∗ = −0.30), and for RA (r = −0.24). The fewer incidence of T1D and the lower the mortality rates of MS, asthma, and RA, the higher the centenarian rate, representing the numbers of the living centenarians in the country (Figs. 1 and 2).
Fig. 1

The scatterplots of the death rates of multiple sclerosis MS for the centenarians rate CR. (X = Estimated death rates of multiple sclerosis per 100,000 population, Y = Centenarian rate CR∗)

Fig. 2

The scatterplots of the incidence of Type 1 diabetes T1D for the centenarian rate. (X = Centenarian rates CR, Y = Incidence Type 1 diabetes mellitus (0–14 years old) per 100,000 population)

An inverse linear correlation between the life expectancy and the death rates was also observed with a strong linearity and Pearson coefficients r° between life expectancy and Asthma r° = −0.63, and RA r° = −0.33, and MS with a lower degree of linearity (r° = −0.15) and a practically inexistent linear relation with the incidence of T1D (Lens-Pechakova 2016). The observed negative correlations indicate that the higher the death rates of asthma, RA, and MS in a country, the lower the country’s life expectancy (Figs. 3 and 4). The differences in the longevity parameters in neighboring countries (Table 1), which supposedly have similar genetic profiles and environment, as well as the lower degree of linear relation observed in some cases, could point to the importance of other factors (lifestyle, social, economic, etc.) and to complex interactions of several factors, influencing the processes of the autoimmune diseases and longevity in different degrees and in the opposite direction.
Fig. 3

The scatterplots of the death rates of rheumatoid arthritis for the life expectancy. (X = Estimated death rates of rheumatoid arthritis per 100,000 population, Y = Life expectancy)

Fig. 4

The scatterplots of the death rates of asthma for the life expectancy. (X = Life expectancy, Y = Estimated death rates of asthma per 100,000 population)

The observed negative correlation between the longevity parameters from one side and the autoimmune diseases from the other side (Lens-Pechakova 2016) could suggest common mechanisms and factors affecting the development of the autoimmune diseases that are previously rarely studied in a group. The same mechanisms and factors most probably play a role in the processes of aging, longevity, and preserving the centenarians’ optimal immunity. The expanding of the autoimmune diseases cannot possibly be, opposite to what often has been suggested, a necessary consequence of the growing numbers of the aging population as it clearly diminishes the lifespan, i.e., it has a negative influence on the longevity, on the numbers of the centenarians, as well as on the numbers of the aging population.
Table 1

Data on centenarian rates, life expectancy and death rates of MS, RA, asthma and incidence of T1D

Country

Centenarian rates CR2010 (Lens-Pechakova 2016)

Living centenarians in 2010, thousands

Aged 50–54 in 1960, thousands

Centenarian rates CR2011 (Kim 2013)

Life expectancy LE

Type 1 diabetes incidence T1D

Multiple sclerosis death rates MS

Rheumatoid arthritis death rates RA

Asthma death rates

Australia

54.74

3

548

59.56

82.07

22.50

0.50

0.40

1.20

Austria

19.76

1

506

25.89

80.17

17.50

0.90

0.20

0.90

Belgium

16.1

1

621

24.98

79.92

15.90

0.80

0.40

1.60

Canada

71.51

6

839

70.04

81.67

25.90

0.90

0.50

0.50

Denmark

34.25

1

292

31.61

79.09

25.10

1.50

0.80

1.80

Finland

37.45

1

267

21.06

79.69

57.60

0.60

1.00

0.80

France

51.28

15

2925

59.26

81.66

12.20

0.70

0.30

0.80

Germany

23.79

13

5464

23.64

80.44

21.90

0.80

0.20

1.00

Greece

44.34

2

451

37.25

80.30

10.40

0.60

0.30

/

Hungary

15.31

1

653

13.81

75.46

18.20

0.60

0.40

1.00

Israel

88.49

1

113

53.56

81.28

14.90

0.20

0.30

1.00

Italy

33.23

12

3611

44.43

82.03

12.10

0.40

0.30

0.40

Japan

101.2

42

4150

116.78

84.46

2.40

0.00

0.50

0.70

Netherlands

32.10

2

623

29.43

81.12

18.60

0.70

0.30

0.30

New Zealand

80.65

1

124

37.89

80.93

18.00

0.80

0.50

1.40

Norway

44.64

1

224

29.29

81.60

32.80

1.40

0.60

1.20

Poland

17.9

3

1676

15.99

76.65

17.30

0.90

0.60

1.40

Portugal

21.23

1

471

22.07

79.01

13.20

0.40

0.50

0.70

Spain

48.57

8

1647

38.80

81.47

20.60

0.30

0.20

0.80

Sweden

38.61

2

518

30.73

81.89

43.20

0.70

0.60

0.90

Switzerland

29.07

1

344

63.12

82.39

13.10

0.90

0.30

0.50

Turkey

9.84

1

1016

1.59

73.29

/

0.80

/

5.20

UK

33.21

12

3613

36.61

80.42

28.20

1.30

0.70

1.10

USA

59.03

61

10,334

58.15

79.56

23.70

0.90

0.50

0.90

Estonia

 

0

 

26.01

74.07

17.10

0.50

0.70

1.80

Luxembourg

 

0

 

16.16

80.01

19.00

0.90

/

0.90

Iceland

 

0

 

42.69

81.22

14.70

0.90

0.30

0.40

Ireland

 

0

 

24.95

80.56

16.30

0.70

0.90

0.90

Slovenia

 

0

 

20.46

77.83

14.60

0.90

0.80

0.20

Summary

Due to underlying mechanisms of an immune response against own cells and tissues, autoimmunity is partially responsible and a predisposing factor for the development of other diseases, like cardiovascular diseases, cancer, and respiratory diseases, which are the three leading causes for noncommunicable diseases’ deaths. Some recent studies showed that countries with higher incidence and mortality of some autoimmune diseases showed lower life expectancy and lower number of centenarians. Possible common mechanisms, genetics, and other factors affecting the development of the autoimmune diseases play a role but in the opposite direction in the processes of aging, longevity, and preserving the centenarians’ optimal immunity. Further integrated multidisciplinary studies incorporating and comparing genetic data, mechanistic pathways, and environmental, economic, and other factors connected to autoimmune diseases with those of longevity could clarify the processes involved, in order to promote the healthy longevity and healthy aging.

Cross-References

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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Life Extension Beyond Borders AssociationNiceFrance

Section editors and affiliations

  • Leilani Feliciano
    • 1
  • Danan Gu
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyUniversity of Colorado at Colorado SpringsColorado SpringsUSA
  2. 2.Population Division, Department of Economic and Social AffairsUnited NationsNew YorkUSA