Maximum life span
Maximum life span is a measure of the maximum amount of time one or more members of a group has been observed to survive between birth and death.
In animal studies, maximum life span is often taken to be the mean life span of the most long-lived 10% of a given cohort. By another definition, however, maximum life span corresponds to the age at which the oldest known member of a species or experimental group has died. Calculation of the maximum life span in the former sense depends upon initial sample size.
Maximum life span is in contrast with mean life span (average life span or life expectancy). Mean life span varies with susceptibility to disease, accident, suicide and homicide, whereas maximum life span is determined by "rate of aging".
 In humans
The oldest recognized person on record is Jeanne Calment, a French woman who lived for 122 years. Prior to Calment, the undisputed record was just 114. Maximum recorded life span for humans has remained about 105â122 solar years throughout recorded history, despite steady improvements in life expectancy. Reduction of infant mortality has accounted for most of this increased average longevity, but since the 1960s mortality rates among those over 80 years have decreased by about 1.5% per year. "The progress being made in lengthening lifespans and postponing senescence is entirely due to medical and public-health efforts, rising standards of living, better education, healthier nutrition and more salubrious lifestyles.". Animal studies suggest that further lengthening of human lifespan could be achieved through "calorie restriction mimetic" drugs or by directly reducing food consumption. Although calorie restriction has not been proven to extend the maximum human life span, as of 2006, results in ongoing primate studies are promising.
 In other animals
Small animals such as birds and squirrels rarely live to their maximum life span, usually dying of accidents, disease or predation. Grazing animals accumulate wear and tear to their teeth to the point where they can no longer eat, and they die of starvation.
The maximum life span of most species has not been accurately determined, because the data collection has been minimal and the number of species studied in captivity (or by monitoring in the wild) has been small.
Maximum life span is usually longer for species that are larger or have effective defenses against predation, such as bird flight, tortoise shells, porcupine quills, or large primate brains. When compared to primates, of the approximately 20,000 to 25,000 genes in the human genome, it is estimated that 6% of these are different from those of a chimpanzee which has an average lifespan of only 52 years, in contrast to the human lifespan. The difference in longevity between humans and chimps could be due to as few as a hundred genes or fewer; however there may be other factors that shorten the life span of chimpanzees.
The differences in life span between species demonstrate the role of genetics in determining maximum life span ("rate of aging"). The records (in years) are these:
The longest-lived vertebrates have been variously described as
- koi (A Japanese species of fish, 200+ years, though generally not exceeding 25) Hanako was reportedly 226 years old upon her death.
- Greenland Sharks (A species of shark native to the North Atlantic, believed to be about 200 years)
- tortoises (GalΓ¡pagos tortoise) (190 years)
- tuataras (a New Zealand reptile species, 100-200+ years)
- eels, the so called Brantevik eel (Swedish: BranteviksΓ₯len) is thought to have lived in a water well in southern Sweden since 1859, which makes it over 150 years old.
- whales (Bowhead Whale) (Balaena mysticetus about 200 years)
- Although this idea was unproven for a time, recent research has indicated that bowhead whales recently killed still had harpoons in their bodies from about 1890, which, along with analysis of amino acids, has indicated a maximum life span, stated as "the 211 year-old bowhead could have been from 177 to 245 years old" . However, with the possible exception of the Bowhead whale, the claims of lifespans >100 year must be taken with some skepticism as they rely on conjecture (e.g. counting otoliths) rather than empirical, continuous documentation.
Invertebrate species which continue to grow as long as they live (e.g., certain clams, some coral species) can on occasion live hundreds of years:
- Hydra, there may be no natural limit to its life span, and it is not yet clear how to estimate the age of a specimen.
 In plants
Plants are referred to as annuals which live only one year, biennials which live two years, and perennials which live longer than that. The longest-lived perennials, woody-stemmed plants such as trees and bushes, often live for hundreds and even thousands of years (one may question whether or not they may die of old age). A giant sequoia, General Sherman is alive and well in its third millennium. A Great Basin Bristlecone Pine called Methuselah is 4,838 years old and the Bristlecone Pine called Prometheus was a little older still, 4,844 years, when it was cut down in 1964. The oldest known plant (probably oldest living thing) is a creosote bush (Larrea tridentata) in the Mojave Desert called King Clone at about 11,700 years.
 Increasing maximum life span
Main article: Life extension
Currently, the only (non-transgenic) method of increasing maximum life span that is recognized by biogerontologists is calorie restriction with adequate nutrition. "Maximum life span" here means the mean life span of the most long-lived 10% of a given cohort, as caloric restriction has not yet been shown to break mammalian world records for longevity. Rats, mice, and hamsters experience maximum life-span extension from a diet that contains 40â60% of the calories (but all of the required nutrients) that the animals consume when they can eat as much as they want. Mean life span is increased 65% and maximum life span is increased 50%, when caloric restriction is begun just before puberty.). For fruit flies the life extending benefits of calorie restriction are gained immediately at any age upon beginning calorie restriction and ended immediately at any age upon resuming full feeding).
A few transgenic species of mice have been created that have maximum life spans greater than that of wild-type or laboratory mice. The Ames and Snell mice, which have mutations in pituitary transcription factors and hence are deficient in Gh, LH, TSH, and secondarily IGF1, have extensions in maximal lifespan of up to 65%. To date, both in absolute and relative terms, these Ames and Snell mice have the maximum lifespan of any mouse not on caloric restriction (see below on GhR). Mutations/knockout of other genes affecting the GH/IGF1 axis, such as Lit, Ghr and Irs1 have also shown extension in lifespan, but much more modest both in relative and absolute terms. The longest lived laboratory mouse ever was a Ghr knockout mouse on caloric restriction, which lived to ~1800 days (maximum for normal B6 mice under ideal conditions is 1200 days) in the lab of A. Bartke at Southern Illinois University.
Most biomedical gerontologists (gerontologists who search for ways to extend maximum life span) believe that biomedical molecular engineering will eventually extend maximum lifespan and even bring about rejuvenation.
Aubrey de Grey, a theoretical gerontologist, has proposed that the damage called aging can be reversed by SENS (Strategies for Engineered Negligible Senescence). Dr. de Grey has established The Methuselah Mouse Prize to award money to researchers who can extend the maximum life span of mice. A. Bartker collected the prize for the GhR knockout mouse and Speakman collected the prize for extending the maximum lifespan of an adult mouse, using caloric restriction initiated late in life.
 Research data concerning maximum life span
- A comparison of the heart mitochondria in rats (4-year maximum life span) and pigeons (35-year maximum life span) showed that pigeon mitochondria leak fewer free-radicals than rat mitochondria, despite the fact that both animals have similar metabolic rate and cardiac output
- For mammals there is a direct relationship between mitochondrial membrane fatty acid saturation and maximum life span
- Studies of the liver lipids of mammals and a bird (pigeon) show an inverse relationship between maximum life span and number of double bonds
- Selected species of birds and mammals show an inverse relationship between telomere rate of change (shortening) and maximum life span
- Maximum life span correlates negatively with antioxidant enzyme levels and free-radicals production and positively with rate of DNA repair
- Female mammals express more MnâSOD and glutathione peroxidase antioxidant enzymes than males. This has been hypothesized as the reason they live longer However, mice entirely lacking in Glutathione peroxidase 1 do not show a reduction in lifespan.
- The maximum life span of transgenic mice has been extended about 20% by overexpression of human catalase targeted to mitochondria
- A comparison of 7 non-primate mammals (mouse, hamster, rat, guinea-pig, rabbit, pig and cow) showed that the rate of mitochondrial superoxide and hydrogen peroxide production in heart and kidney were inversely correlated with maximum life span
- A study of 8 non-primate mammals showed an inverse correlation between maximum life span and oxidative damage to mtDNA (Mitochondrial DNA) in heart & brain
- A study of several species of mammals and a bird (pigeon) indicated a linear relationship between oxidative damage to protein and maximum life span
- There is a direct correlation between DNA repair and maximum life span for mammalian species
- Drosophila (fruit-flies) bred for 15 generations by only using eggs that were laid toward the end of reproductive life achieved maximum life spans 30% greater than that of controls
- Overexpression of the enzyme which synthesizes glutathione in long-lived transgenic Drosophila (fruit-flies) extended maximum lifespan by nearly 50%
- A mutation in the ageâ1 gene of the nematode worm Caenorhabditis elegans increased mean life span 65% and maximum life span 110%. However, the degree of lifespan extension in relative terms by both the age-1 and daf-2 mutations is strongly dependent on ambient temperature, with ~10% extension at 16 â°C and 65% extension at 27 â°C.
- Fat-specific Insulin Receptor KnockOut (FIRKO) mice have reduced fat mass, normal calorie intake and an increased maximum life span of 18%.
- The capacity of mammalian species to detoxify the carcinogenic chemical benzo(a)pyrene to a water-soluble form also correlates well with maximum life span.
- Short-term induction of oxidative stress due to calorie restriction increases life span in Caenorhabditis elegans by promoting stress defense, specifically by inducing an enzyme called catalase. As shown by Michael Ristow and co-workers nutritive antioxidants completely abolish this extension of life span by inhibiting a process called mitohormesis.
 See also
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 External links
|Lists of centenarians
Living â· Activists, non-profit leaders, and philanthropists â· Actors, filmmakers, and entertainers â· Artists â· Authors, poets, and journalists â· Businessmen â· Educators, school administrators, social scientists, and linguists â· Explorers â· Jurists and practitioners of law â· Medical professionals â· Military commanders â· Musicians, composers, and music patrons â· Philosophers and theologians â· Politicians and government servants â· Religious figures â· Royalty and nobility â· Scientists and mathematicians â· Sportspeople â· Miscellaneous
|See also Gerontology â· Ageing â· Life extension-related topics â· Extreme longevity tracking â· FOXO3 longevity gene
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