Genetic predisposition to elevated serum thyrotropin is associated with exceptional longevity

Gil Atzmon, Nir Barzilai, Martin I. Surks, Ilan Gabriely

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Context: Exceptional longevity is associated with raised serum TSH. Objective: The aim of this study was to examine whether offspring of people with exceptional longevity have elevated serum TSH and whether specific single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in the TSH-B gene and TSH receptor (TSHR) gene are associated with this phenotype. Design/Setting/Patients: We measured serum TSH and free T4 in Ashkenazi Jewish centenarians (n = 232; median age, 97 yr), their offspring (n = 366; median age, 69 yr), and age-matched controls without familial longevity (n = 163; median age, 70 yr). We determined TSH heritability, its distribution, and association with SNPs in the TSH-B and TSHR genes. Results: Offspring had higher median serum TSH [1.68 mIU/liter (97.5% confidence interval, 0.65 to 4.79 mIU/liter)], compared to controls [1.50 mIU/liter (97.5% confidence interval, 0.63 to 3.93 mIU/liter); P = 0.02], with estimated heritability of 0.33 (P = 0.004). Allele frequency of two SNPs in the promoter/enhancer region of TSHR gene, associated with increased serum TSH, was higher in centenarians and their offspring compared to controls (rs10149689 G allele frequency, 0.57 and 0.53 vs. 0.48; P = 0.001 and P = 0.08; odds ratio, 1.56 and 1.22, respectively; and rs12050077Aallele frequency, 0.57 and 0.53 vs. 0.46; P = 0.0001 and P = 0.01; odds ratio, 1.68 and 1.32, respectively). Linkage disequilibrium between thetwoSNPs was high (r2 = 0.95), suggesting interaction between them. Furthermore, GA haplotype frequency was significantly higher among centenarians and offspring compared to controls (0.57 and 0.53 vs. 0.46; P = 0.0001 and P = 0.01, respectively). Conclusions: A heritable phenotype characterized by raised serum TSH is associated with human longevity. Carriers of rs12050077 and rs10149689 SNPs in the TSHR have higher serum TSH, possibly contributing to decreased thyroid function and longevity.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)4768-4775
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 2009
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
  • Biochemistry
  • Endocrinology
  • Clinical Biochemistry
  • Biochemistry, medical

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