Skip to main content
Accessibility  |  Contact  |  Privacy  |  Terms of Service

Epigenetic Clock Distinguishes Between Chronological and Biological Age

  • Published: 2017-04-07 : Author: Brigham and Women's Hospital : Contact:
  • Synopsis: Traditional clocks measure the passage of chronological time and age, an epigenetic clock can also measure biological age.
Epigenetic Clock

An epigenetic clock is a type of DNA clock based on measuring natural DNA methylation levels to estimate the biological age of a tissue, cell type or organ. The age of many human tissues and cells is reflected in chemical changes to DNA. Biological aging clocks and biomarkers of aging are expected to find many uses in biological research since age is a fundamental characteristic of most organisms. The finding provides insights for cancer, aging, and stem cell research.

Main Document

"This is a new and much needed tool for studying how changes in diet, environment, genetic manipulations and more can influence health and lifespan..."

Lots of factors can contribute to how fast an organism ages: diet, genetics and environmental interventions can all influence lifespan. But in order to understand how each factor influences aging -- and which ones may help slow its progression -- researchers need an accurate biomarker, a clock that distinguishes between chronological and biological age.

A traditional clock can measure the passage of chronological time and chronological age, but a so-called epigenetic clock can measure biological age.

Epigenetic clocks already exist to reflect the pace of aging in humans, but in order to measure and test the effects of interventions in the lab, BWH investigators have developed an age-predicting clock designed for studies in mice. The new clock accurately predicts mouse biological age and the effects of genetic and dietary factors, giving the scientific community a new tool to better understand aging and test new interventions. Their results are published this week in Cell Metabolism.

To develop their "clock," researchers took blood samples from 141 mice and, from among two million sites, pinpointed 90 sites from across the methylome that can predict biological age. (The methylome refers to all of the sites in the genome where chemical changes known as methylation take place, changing how and when DNA information is read.)

The team then tested the effects of interventions that are known to increase lifespan and delay aging, including calorie restriction and gene knockouts. They also used the clock to measure the biological ages of induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs), which resemble younger blood.

The research team hopes that their technique will be useful for researchers who are studying new aging interventions in the lab. Currently, it can take years and hundreds of thousands of dollars to study mice over their lifespans and determine the effectiveness of a single intervention. Although it is no small feat to sequence the entire methylome, the new clock could allow for studies to be carried out much faster and on a larger scale.

"This is a new and much needed tool for studying how changes in diet, environment, genetic manipulations and more can influence health and lifespan," said corresponding author Vadim Gladyshev, PhD, of BWH's Division of Genetics. "Our hope is that researchers will be able to use this biomarker for aging to find new interventions that can extend lifespan, examine conditions that support rejuvenation and study the biology of aging and lifespan control."

Funding for this work was provided by the National Institutes of Health.

Paper cited: Petkovich DA et al. "Using DNA Methylation Profiling to Evaluate Biological Age and Longevity Interventions." Cell Metabolism DOI: 10.1016/j.cmet.2017.03.016

Similar Topics

1 : Clues to Aging Found in Stem Cells Genomes : Howard Hughes Medical Institute.
2 : U.S. Mortality Rate Improvement Slowed by Rise in Obesity : University of Pennsylvania.
3 : Population-specific Deep Biomarkers of Aging : InSilico Medicine, Inc..
4 : People Want to Live Longer - But Only If in Good Health : University of Kansas.
5 : Why Do We Age - Why Didn't We Evolve to Live Forever : Johannes Gutenberg Universitaet Mainz.
From our Longevity - Life Expectancy section - Full List (45 Items)

Submit disability news, coming events, as well as assistive technology product news and reviews.

Loan Information for low income singles, families, seniors and disabled. Includes home, vehicle and personal loans.

Famous People with Disabilities - Well known people with disabilities and conditions who contributed to society.

List of awareness ribbon colors and their meaning. Also see our calendar of awareness dates.

Blood Pressure Chart - What should your blood pressure be, and information on blood group types/compatibility.

1 : How Often Do Medical Problems Lead to Bankruptcy?
2 : Videocamp Launches $400,000 Fund and Challenges Filmmakers to Create a Film About Inclusive Education
3 : vEAR: Why Can I Sometimes 'Hear' Silent Flashes When Viewing Animated Gif's?
4 : New Jersey Digital Art Program for Individuals with ASD
5 : 2018 Lime Connect Fellowship Program for Students with Disabilities


Disclaimer: This site does not employ and is not overseen by medical professionals. Content on Disabled World is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of a physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. See our Terms of Service for more information.

Reporting Errors: Disabled World is an independent website, your assistance in reporting outdated or inaccurate information is appreciated. If you find an error please let us know.