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Journal Articles Aging Year : 2017

Telomeres and the natural lifespan limit in humans

Wei Chen
Giuseppe Paolisso
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An ongoing debate in demography has focused on whether the human lifespan has a maximal natural limit. Taking a mechanistic perspective, and knowing that short telomeres are associated with diminished longevity, we examined whether telomere length dynamics during adult life could set a maximal natural lifespan limit. We define leukocyte telomere length of 5 kb as the 'telomeric brink', which denotes a high risk of imminent death. We show that a subset of adults may reach the telomeric brink within the current life expectancy and more so for a 100-year life expectancy. Thus, secular trends in life expectancy should confront a biological limit due to crossing the telomeric brink.

Dates and versions

hal-02519086 , version 1 (25-03-2020)





Troels Steenstrup, Jeremy Kark, Simon Verhulst, Mikael Thinggaard, Jacob Hjelmborg, et al.. Telomeres and the natural lifespan limit in humans. Aging, 2017, 9 (4), pp.1130-1142. ⟨10.18632/aging.101216⟩. ⟨hal-02519086⟩
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