Why do centenarians escape or postpone cancer? The role of IGF-1, inflammation and p53

Stefano Salvioli, Miriam Capri, Laura Bucci, Cristina Lanni, Marco Racchi, Daniela Uberti, Maurizio Memo, Daniela Mari, Stefano Govoni, Claudio Franceschi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Centenarians are exceptionally long living individuals who escaped the most common age-related diseases. In particular they appear to be effectively protected from cancers. The mechanisms that underlie this protection are quite complex and still largely unclear. Aim: To critically analyse the literature in order to propose a unifying hypothesis that can account for this cancer protection in centenarians. Methods: Review of the scientific literature regarding three main players in tumourigenesis such as IGF-1, inflammation and p53, and centenarians. Results: Centenarians appear to be characterised by low IGF-1-mediated responses and high levels of anti-inflammatory cytokines such as IL-10 and TGF-β, a condition that results in protection from cancer. Both inflammation and IGF-1 pathway converge on the tumour suppressor p53. Accordingly, some studies indicate that genetic variants of p53 are associated with human longevity by providing protection from cancer mortality. Conclusions: The available data let us to hypothesise that among other possible mechanisms, well-preserved p53- mediated responses are likely a key factor contributing to protection from cancer in centenarians.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1909-1917
Number of pages9
JournalCancer Immunology, Immunotherapy
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2009


  • Cancer
  • Centenarians
  • IGF-1
  • Inflammation
  • p53

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cancer Research
  • Oncology
  • Immunology
  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Medicine(all)


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