Journal Article

Demographics, phenotypic health characteristics and genetic analysis of centenarians in China

Zeng, Y., Feng, Q., Gu, D., Vaupel, J. W.
Mechanisms of Ageing and Development, 165:B, 86–97 (2017)
Open Access


After a brief introduction to the background, significance and unique features of the centenarian population in China, we describe the Chinese Longitudinal Healthy Longevity Study (CLHLS), which is the world’s largest study of centenarians, nonagenarians, octogenarians, and compatible young-old aged 65–79. Based on the CLHLS data and other relevant studies, we summarize demographic and socioeconomic characteristics as well as self-reported and objectively-tested health indicators of centenarians in China, with an emphasis on gender differences and rural/urban disparities. We then compare five-year-age-specific trajectories of physical and cognitive functions, self-reported health, and life satisfactions from ages 65–69 to 100+, concluding that good psychological resilience and optimism are keys to the exceptional longevity enjoyed by centenarians. We discuss recent findings of novel loci and pathways that are significantly associated with longevity based on the genome-wide association study (GWAS) of the CLHLS centenarian sample, which is 2.7 times as large as prior GWAS of longevity. We also highlight colleagues’ and our own studies on longevity candidate genes and gene-environment interaction analyses. Finally, we discuss limitations inherent in our studies of centenarians in China and further research perspectives.

The Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research (MPIDR) in Rostock is one of the leading demographic research centers in the world. It's part of the Max Planck Society, the internationally renowned German research society.