Centre for Genomic & Experimental Medicine
Centre for Genomic & Experimental Medicine

CGEM researchers find genetic link between education and longevity

November 2016: Research, led from CGEM, has shown that variations in genes which are linked to educational success are also linked to longevity.

education longevity

A recent Commentary article in PNAS (Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences), by Conley and Sotoudeh, highlights the significance of research recently published by CGEM’s Dr Riccardo Marioni. The paper states:

Marioni et al. have overcome a missing data problem and paved the way for future research to determine the mechanisms that link the genetic architecture of education, on the one hand, and life expectancy, on the other.

PNAS, 113(47), 2016

The original article, published by Marioni and an international team of researchers in the same issue of PNAS, shows that genetic variants which are linked to educational attainment are also linked to longevity.

Educational attainment is associated with a longer lifespan and also with certain genetic variants. By creating genetic scores for education - an individual's genetic propensity for educational attainment – the team investigated its link with longevity. Data from three biobank studies (Generation Scotland, UK Biobank, and the Estonian Biobank) totalling over 130,000 individuals were included. However, as most of the studies participants were still alive, information on their parents' longevity was used to test the association. That is, the parents' longevity is a proxy for their offspring.

Across all studies, the team observed that a greater genetic propensity for education was associated with an increased lifespan. Those with genetic scores in the top third lived, on average, 6 months longer than those in the bottom third. These findings suggest an underlying genetic component to the association between educational attainment and longevity.

Related links

Marioni et al Journal article (doi:10.1073/pnas.1605334113)

Conley and Sotoudeh Commentary article (doi:10.1073/pnas.1616274113)