Bayesian association scan reveals loci associated with human lifespan and linked biomarkers

The enormous variations in human lifespan are in part due to a myriad of sequence variants, only a few of which have been revealed to date. Since many life-shortening events are related to diseases, we developed a Mendelian randomization-based method combining 58 disease-related GWA studies to derive longevity priors for all HapMap SNPs. A Bayesian association scan, informed by these priors, for parental age of death in the UK Biobank study (n=116,279) revealed 16 independent SNPs with significant Bayes factor at a 5% false discovery rate (FDR). Eleven of them replicate (5% FDR) in five independent longevity studies combined; all but three are depleted of the life-shortening alleles in older Biobank participants. Further analysis revealed that brain expression levels of nearby genes (RBM6, SULT1A1, CHRNA5) might be causally implicated in longevity. Gene-expression and caloric restriction experiments in model organisms confirm the conserved role for RBM6 and SULT1A1 in modulating lifespan.

The genome-wide summary statistics, including priors, test-statistics, Bayes factors and permutation-based P-values are available for download from here.