July 27 (UPI) -- Researchers at the Swiss Institute of Bioinformatics, or SIB, report in a new study that they have identified 16 new genetic markers that can negatively impact a person's lifespan.
Changes in locations in the DNA sequence, like single-nucleotide polymorphisms, or SNPs, may hold the key to the length of a person's lifespan.
The study, published July 27 in Nature Communications, analyzed data from 116,279 individuals and 2.3 million human SNPs using a computational method.
Researchers found 16 SNPs associated with lifespan, 14 of which are new to science. Previous studies had only identified two genetic markers related to lifespan.
According to Zoltan Kutalik, group leader at SIB and assistant professor at the Institute of Social and Preventive Medicine, the discovery is the largest set of lifespan-associated genetic markers ever found.
The study prioritized changes in DNA linked to age-related diseases to scan the genome more efficiently.
Researchers were able to determine how the DNA changes affected lifespan in a holistic way because most SNPs had an effect on lifespan by impacting more than a single disease or risk factor.
The study also found that the new SNPs, combined with gene expression data, show lower brain expression of three genes adjacent to the SNPs that were linked to increased lifespan. The three genes can act as biomarkers of longevity.
"Interestingly, the gene expression impact of some of these SNPs in humans is analogous to the consequence of a low-calorie diet in mice, which is known to have positive effects on lifespan," Prof. Marc Robinson-Rechavi, SIB Group Leader and professor at the University of Lausanne, said in a press release.