Amyloidosis and Supercentenarians

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Different forms of amyloidosis are the present outermost limiting condition on human life span. The evidence suggests that this is what ultimately kills supercentenarians, the resilient individuals who have made it past the age of 110, avoiding or surviving all of the fatal age-related medical conditions that claimed their peers. Platika is the chairman of the Supercentenarian Research Foundation, (SRF) a new organization designed to raise funding for studies of supercentenarians, or people who have lived more than 110 years.

Amyloidosis is a buildup of different types of clumping biochemicals in different tissues that leads to loss of function and eventually death. It is thought to be the key most important cause of death in supercentenarians who have evaded all the other common killers. The superseniors deviate from the norm not just in how long they live but in how they die. Only nine Supercentenarians have undergone postmortems – Calment, for example, never agreed to one – and Coles and colleagues have performed six of these procedures, including one earlier this year in Cali, Colombia, on a man who died at age 111.

Based on what we know regarding these autopsies, these supercentenarians aren’t perishing from the typical scourges of old age, such as cancer, heart disease, stroke, and Alzheimer’s Disease. What kills most of them, according to the above-mentioned SRF is a condition, extremely rare among younger people, called senile cardiac TTR Amyloidosis. TTR is a protein that cradles the thyroid hormone thyroxine and whisks it around the body. In TTR Amyloidosis, the protein amasses in and clogs blood vessels, forcing the heart to work harder and eventually fail. Kidney amyloidosis has aslo been noted among the very old centenarianas.

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