Longevity is moderately heritable in a sample of Danish twins born 1870-1880.

Journal Article (Journal Article)

The heritability of human longevity was investigated in a sample of 218 pairs of monozygotic (MZ) and 382 pairs of like-sex dizygotic (DZ) Danish twin pairs born 1870-1880. Twin similarity for age at death was significant for MZ twins but nonsignificant for DZ twins. The heritability (h2) of life span estimated from the best-fitting biometrical model was statistically significant but moderate in magnitude (h2 = .333 +/- .058). Heritability of longevity did not vary by gender, and the pattern of twin resemblance was more consistent with nonadditive as compared to additive genetic effects. In addition, evidence for a genetic association between premature and senescent deaths was observed. Although environmental factors accounted for a majority of the variance in life span, the relevant environmental factors appeared to be those that create differences rather than similarities among reared-together relatives. Findings are discussed in terms of their relevance for understanding the inheritance and evolution of human life span.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • McGue, M; Vaupel, JW; Holm, N; Harvald, B

Published Date

  • November 1993

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 48 / 6

Start / End Page

  • B237 - B244

PubMed ID

  • 8227991

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 0022-1422

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1093/geronj/48.6.b237


  • eng