Background: Innate immunity utilizes components of sensory signal transduction such as bitter and sweet taste receptors. In fact, empirical evidence has shown bitter and sweet taste receptors to be an integral component of antimicrobial immune response in upper respiratory tract infections. Since an efficient immune response plays a key role in the attainment of longevity, it is not surprising that the rs978739 polymorphism of the bitter taste receptor TAS2R16 gene has been shown to be associated with longevity in a population of 941 individuals ranging in age from 20 to 106 years from Calabria (Italy). There are many possible candidate genes for human longevity, however of the many genes tested, only APOE and FOXO3 survived to association in replication studies. So, it is necessary to validate in other studies genes proposed to be associated with longevity. Thus, we analysed the association of the quoted polymorphism in a population of long lived individuals (LLIs) and controls from another Italian population from Cilento.
Methods: The analysis has been performed on data previously obtained with genome-wide association study on a population of LLIs (age range 90-109 years) and young controls (age range 18-45 years) from Cilento (Italy).
Results: Statistical power calculations showed that the analysed cohort represented by 410 LLIs and 553 young controls was sufficiently powered to replicate the association between rs978739 and the longevity phenotype according to the effect size and frequencies described in the previous paper, under a dominant and additive genetic model. However, no evidence of association between rs978739 and the longevity phenotype was observed according to the additive or dominant model.
Conclusion: There are several reasons for the failure of the confirmation of a previous study. However, the differences between the two studies in terms of environment of the population adopted and of the criteria of inclusion have made difficult the replication of the findings.