Re: [GRG] NewAbs: Supercentenarian Blood from Holland


A few minor clarifications:

1. Guinness World Records later accepted the Maria Capovilla case as born Sept 14 1889 and living (as of Dec 9 2005), so Hendrikje Van Andel-Schipper was later revised to second-oldest in the world.

2. The GRG has over 2,000 case
validations for supercentenarians. I suspect the “several hundred” number came from the International Database on Longevity, which had 654 reported cases at their last website update.

3. I do believe that if the number of active blood stem cells drops rapidly from age 110 to 115 that we need to study this group. Over 2,000 people have reached age 110 but less than 40 have been documented to have reached age 115, and just 4 have reached age 117.


Robert Young

Senior Consultant for Gerontology,
Guinness World Records

Senior Database Administrator, Gerontology Research Group

From: L. Stephen Coles M.D. Ph.D. To: Gerontology Research Group Cc: “Hinco Gierman,
Ph.D.” Sent: Thursday, August 28, 2014 7:24 PMSubject: [GRG] NewAbs: Supercentenarian Blood from Holland

To Members and Friends of the Los Angeles Gerontology
Research Group:
       Supercentenarian blood from
Holland… — Steve Coles

“In Old

The Body of a Supercentenarian Expands Science’s Appreciation for the
Physiological Limits of Aging”by
Jef Akst
HENDRIKJE AND GERT: Holstege (right) chats with 113-year-old van
Andel-Schipper in 2003.
COURTESY OF GERT HOLSTEGEAugust 1, 2014; (The Scientist) — In the 1970’s,
Hendrikje van Andel-Schipper, an elderly woman in the Netherlands, made
the decision to donate her body to science after her death. She was in
her 80s then and probably figured it wouldn’t be long before she would be
able to deliver on her promise. But 30 years later, in the early 2000s,
she was still going strong.
    Wondering if she was of any use to science at the ripe
old age of 111, she called up the nearby University of Groningen, and the
message got passed around to neuroscientist Gert Holstege, who says he
gets the question a handful of times a year, most often when a person
who’s donated her body to science becomes ill. When he found out that van
Andel-Schipper was not only healthy, but that she was a
supercentenarian­someone over the age of 110­he couldn’t believe it. “I
remember this vividly,” he says. He thought to himself: “I think she is
quite useful to science.”
    Holstege arranged to meet with van Andel-Schipper in
the retirement home where she lived, and he was immediately struck by her
awareness and intelligence. “She knew exactly what was going on in
politics, in sports,” recalls Holstege, now retired in the Netherlands
but with a virtual position at the University of Queensland in Australia.
“She could explain [to] me exactly what happened in 1898 when Wilhelmina
became queen [of the Netherlands].” He remembers her detailed analysis of
her favorite soccer team, Ajax Amsterdam, and her prediction that the
team was not going to be successful due to weakness on the left side. She
also described parties shed gone to with Dutch soldiers as World War I
began in 1914 and her marriage to a divorced man in 1939, a union that
her mother did not approve of, Holstege says. “She was completely
    No one was going to believe that a person her age was
so lucid without some proof, he figured, so he went back just a few
months later to test van Andel-Schipper’s impressive cognitive abilities.
Remember 10 words for 10 minutes? No problem, Holstege says.
    Holstege’s tests estimated van Andel-Schipper’s
cognitive abilities to be comparable with a healthy adult half her age. A
year and a half later, Holstege went back. And once again, the
113-year-old’s mind proved to be positively youthful, though Holstege did
notice she had a bit less energy.
    Around 7:30 PM the night of August 29, 2005, Holstege
got a call from the retirement home informing him that van Andel-Schipper
might not make it through the night. Shortly after, she died at age 115
yo. At the time of her death, she had been the oldest person in the world
for more than a year.
    Her corpse arrived at the university before dawn. “And
when we did the autopsy, it was immediately clear: it was stomach
cancer,” he says. Holstege wondered what would have become of van
Andel-Schipper if she had received treatment. She had survived breast
cancer at age 100. If she could have overcome her stomach cancer as well,
how long would she have lived?
    Only a few hundred people on record have lived to see
their 110th birthday. As one of this elite class, van Andel-Schipper is a
biological curiosity, and her body a potential source of novel answers
about aging and dying. Holstege had always been fascinated by her brain;
now he got to explore it. Amazingly, he found almost no beta-amyloid
plaques and few neurofibrillary tangles
Neurobiol Aging, 29:1127-32, 2008). “The brain was totally
normal,” Holstege says.

The way the mutations were distributed over all the blood cells, it
could only mean they were parented by two blood stem cells.­Henne

VU University Medical Center

    She also had extremely little atherosclerosis,
“almost none,” says Holstege. “So she had a very good blood supply to the
brain. This might be one of the reasons that she became so old.”
    More recently, Gert Holstege’s daughter, geneticist
Henne Holstege of VU University Medical Center in Amsterdam, took a
closer look at van Andel-Schipper’s blood. She and her colleagues scanned
the genomes of the supercentenarian’s white blood cells and found
something they hadn’t expected: the vast majority of the cells had
apparently descended from just two hematopoietic stem cells. “The way the
mutations were distributed over all the blood cells, it could only mean
they were parented by two blood stem cells,” explains Henne Holstege
Genome Res, doi:10.1101/gr.162131.113, 2014).
    The geneticist didn’t know it was possible for a
person to survive with just two hematopoietic stem cells, which give rise
to crucial immune cells, including macrophages, neutrophils, dendritic
cells, T cells, B cells, natural killer cells, and more. The homogeneity
of van Andel-Schipper’s blood cells at the time of her death is an
indication that the woman’s stem cell population must have decreased over
her lifetime, Henne Holstege says. She is currently working to recruit
clear-minded centenarians at the VU hospital to donate their blood and,
eventually, their brains, to determine whether this is a universal
    But was van Andel-Schipper’s cancer in any way
attributable to her reduced number of blood stem cells? It’s likely that
precancerous transformations happen in cells through a lifetime, says
clinical immunologist Roberto Paganelli from the Gabriele d’Annunzio
University of Chieti-Pescara. “And it’s only our immune system which
prevents them from expanding and taking over.” Perhaps by the time one
reaches 115 years of age, he says, these immune cells may become limited
in number and function. Though he’s never studied samples from van
Andel-Schipper, Paganelli’s own work has revealed that the blood stem
cells of two centenarians seem to have preserved an ability to generate
all blood lineages, but some of the cells produced comparatively more
lymphocyte progenitors than other blood-derived cell types, despite the
known decrease of lymphocytes in peripheral blood of aged people
Eur J Immunol, 26:2030-34, 1996). “This was a hint that during
aging there is a shift to lose complexity in the system and to enrich for
a single entity,” he says.
    More work is needed to understand exactly how the
immune system ages with us, but with a small percentage of the population
living into their 100’s, sample sizes are limited. Perhaps van
Andel-Schipper’s corporeal gift to science will serve as an example for
other long-lived people, says Paganelli. “The fact that the person was
115 years [and donated her] body and tissues to be explored by scientists
is a very, very encouraging thing. I think this should be
    “She was very important for us, very important for
science in general,” agrees Gert Holstege. “I’ll never forget talking to
her for the first time.”

white blood cells,

stem cells,



Alzheimer’s Disease , and


L. Stephen Coles, M.D., Ph.D., Cofounder
Los Angeles Gerontology Research GroupE-mail: scoles@grg.orgE-mail:


About Johnny Adams

My full-time commitment is to slow and ultimately reverse age related functional decline to increase healthy years of life. I’ve been active in this area since the 1970s, steadily building skills and accomplishments. I have a good basic understanding of the science of aging, and have many skills that complement those of scientists so they can focus on science to advance our shared mission. Broad experience Top skills: administration, management, information technology (data and programming), communications, writing, marketing, market research and analysis, public speaking, forging ethical win-win outcomes among stakeholders (i.e. high level "selling"). Knowledge in grant writing, fundraising, finance. Like most skilled professionals, I’m best described as a guy who defines an end point, then figures out how to get there. I enjoy the conception, design, execution and successful completion of a grand plan. Executive Director Gerontology Research Group (GRG). Manages Email discussion forum, web site, meetings and oversees supercentenarian (oldest humans, 110+ years) research. CEO / Executive Director Carl I. Bourhenne Medical Research Foundation (Aging Intervention Foundation), an IRS approved 501(c)(3) nonprofit. Early contributor to Supercentenarian Research Foundation. Co-Founder Geroscience Healthspan Forum. Active contributor to numerous initiatives to increase healthy years of life. Co-authored book on conventional, practical methods available today to slow the processes of aging – nutrition, exercise, behavior modification and motivation, stress reduction, proper supplementation, damage caused by improper programs, risk reduction and others. Fundamental understanding of, and experience in the genomics of longevity (internship analyzing and curating longevity gene papers). Biological and technical includes information technology, software development and computer programming, bioinformatics and protein informatics, online education, training programs, regulatory, clinical trials software, medical devices (CAT scanners and related), hospital electrical equipment testing program. Interpersonal skills – good communication, honest, well liked, works well in teams or alone. Real world experience collaborating in interdisciplinary teams in fast paced organizations. Uses technology to advance our shared mission. Education: MBA 1985 University of Southern California -- Deans List, Albert Quon Community Service Award (for volunteering with the American Longevity Association and helping an elderly lady every other week), George S. May Scholarship, CA State Fellowship. BA psychology, psychobiology emphasis 1983 California State University Fullerton Physiological courses as well as core courses (developmental, abnormal etc). UCLA Psychobiology 1978, one brief but fast moving and fulfilling quarter. Main interest was the electrochemical basis of consciousness. Also seminars at the NeuroPsychiatric Institute. Other: Ongoing conferences, meetings and continuing education. Aging, computer software and information technology. Some molecular biology, biotech, bio and protein informatics, computer aided drug design, clinical medical devices, electronics, HIPAA, fundraising through the Assoc. of Fundraising Professionals. Previous careers include: Marketing Increasing skill set and successes in virtually all phases, with valuable experience in locating people and companies with the greatest need and interest in a product or service, and sitting across the table with decision makers and working out agreements favorable to all. Information Technology: Management, data analysis and programming in commercial and clinical trials systems, and bioinformatics and protein informatics. As IT Director at Newport Beach, CA based technology organization Success Family of Continuing Education Companies, provided online software solutions for insurance and financial professionals in small to Fortune 500 size companies. We were successful with lean team organization (the slower moving competition was unable to create similar software systems). Medical devices: At Omnimedical in Paramount CA developed and managed quality assurance dept. and training depts. for engineers, physicians and technicians. Designed hospital equipment testing program for hospital services division. In my early 20’s I was a musician, and studied psychology and music. Interned with the intention of becoming a music therapist. These experiences helped develop valuable skills used today to advance our shared mission of creating aging solutions.
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