July 06, 2015
Biomarkers Show Some People Aging 3 Times As Fast As Others

How fast are you aging? Using people from a long running longitudinal study in Dunedin New Zealand and an assortment of biomarkers scientists find that some people are aging 3 years for every chronological year:

Based on a subset of these biomarkers, the research team set a "biological age" for each participant, which ranged from under 30 to nearly 60 in the 38-year-olds.

The researchers then went back into the archival data for each subject and looked at 18 biomarkers that were measured when the participants were age 26, and again when they were 32 and 38. From this, they drew a slope for each variable, and then the 18 slopes were added for each study subject to determine that individual's pace of aging.

Most participants clustered around an aging rate of one year per year, but others were found to be aging as fast as three years per chronological year. Many were aging at zero years per year, in effect staying younger than their age.

As the team expected, those who were biologically older at age 38 also appeared to have been aging at a faster pace. A biological age of 40, for example, meant that person was aging at a rate of 1.2 years per year over the 12 years the study examined.

Here is the PNAS paper by Daniel Belsky et. al.: Quantification of biological aging in young adults:

We studied aging in 954 young humans, the Dunedin Study birth cohort, tracking multiple biomarkers across three time points spanning their third and fourth decades of life. We developed and validated two methods by which aging can be measured in young adults, one cross-sectional and one longitudinal. Our longitudinal measure allows quantification of the pace of coordinated physiological deterioration across multiple organ systems (e.g., pulmonary, periodontal, cardiovascular, renal, hepatic, and immune function). We applied these methods to assess biological aging in young humans who had not yet developed age-related diseases. Young individuals of the same chronological age varied in their “biological aging” (declining integrity of multiple organ systems). Already, before midlife, individuals who were aging more rapidly were less physically able, showed cognitive decline and brain aging, self-reported worse health, and looked older. Measured biological aging in young adults can be used to identify causes of aging and evaluate rejuvenation therapies.

Great aging biomarker metrics make it possible to measure the effects of anti-aging treatments in time spans small enough to make iterative adjustments to find better drugs.

Share |      Randall Parker, 2015 July 06 10:49 PM 

PRice said at July 9, 2015 5:54 PM:

There were three areas I expected to see covered that weren’t addressed in this study:

- Where were the links back to all of the measurements and predictions researchers made at the beginning of the study when these subjects were age 3? Other studies of these same subjects made such links, but it appears that only the cognitive testing link was made in this study. Are we really supposed to believe here in 2015 that scientists can’t determine any early-life causes for these dramatic later-life effects?
- Where were the psychological tests? Are we also to believe that the subjects’ states of mind had nothing to do with their physical measurements?
- I didn’t see any effort to use newer measures such as using the degree of epigenetic DNA methylation as a proxy to measure biological age. I would expect that these subjects’ historical tissue samples may have been available. The reviewer certainly was familiar with newer measures.


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