New measure of biological age can predict health risks

health
Credit: CC0 Public Domain

People age in different ways. Biological age is a metric that scientists use to predict health risks, the relevance of which can be enhanced by combining different markers. Particularly important markers are frailty and the epigenetic clock, write researchers from Karolinska Institutet in a study published in eLife.

Biological age can differ from , and the idea of measuring is that it can indicate or the risk of early death—and thus hopefully provide new opportunities for preventative healthcare.

But which markers are most relevant to the measurement of biological age? One new piece of the puzzle can be found in a study led by Sara Hägg, researcher at Karolinska Institutet, that combined different markers.

Different ways of measuring biological age

"There are different ways of measuring biological age," she says. "We need to know which markers are the most important. Ultimately it might conceivably lead to new ways to prevent age-related diseases."

The biological age metric has been examined in several studies recently. One thing that sets this new study apart is that it studies a combination of multiple markers.

The results of the study show that some markers are particularly important for predicting the risk of early death. The degree of frailty, based on the participants' self-reports of various symptoms, is one; another is the (DNA methylation age estimator), which is linked to how different genes are expressed.

Effective tool for predicting health risks

Other markers studied include telomere length, blood biomarkers and cognitive and physical abilities. These markers were also associated with an increased risk of early death.

The study was a population study that followed 845 middle-aged and elderly participants over a period of 20 years.

"There is a lot of interest in this research and biological age is an effective tool for predicting risks," says Hägg. "However, it's important to stress that our results are population-based and need to be validated at an individual level."


Explore further

Aging: How our 'epigenetic clocks' slow down as we get older

More information: Xia Li et al. Longitudinal trajectories, correlations and mortality associations of nine biological ages across 20-years follow-up, eLife (2020). DOI: 10.7554/eLife.51507
Journal information: eLife

Citation: New measure of biological age can predict health risks (2020, February 11) retrieved 25 November 2020 from https://medicalxpress.com/news/2020-02-biological-age-health.html
This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only.
18 shares

Feedback to editors

User comments