To the utter dismay of Hollywood actresses and men in the throes of a mid-life crises, the Epigenetic Clock has just chimed in to remind us that there really is no escaping time. A new report from Carola Weidner and team at Aachen University in Germany has just shown that, sort of like counting the rings in a tree trunk, examination of the methylation status of just 3 CpG sites in blood can provide a kind of epigenetic birth certificate.
Here’s what their comprehensive analysis of methylation profiles revealed:
- 102 age-related CpG sites in blood.
- Interestingly, these age-associated methylation changes are reversed in induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs).
- By bisulfite sequencing the methylation levels at three age-related CpGs (ITGA2B, ASPA and PDE4C) in blood the group found that this epigenetic aging signature can predict age with only a 5 year deviation (a precision higher than any of those telomere length methods).
Furthermore, in terms of environmental epigenetics, the observed variation in age predictions correlated (moderately) with clinical and lifestyle factors, thus “supporting the notion that age-associated methylation changes are associated more with biological age than with chronological age.” Then, to put the icing on the clinical cake, the group also observed that patients with bone marrow failure syndromes are predicted to be prematurely aged. Overall, the team is left concluding that their “epigenetic aging signature provides a simple biomarker to estimate the state of aging in blood.”
Go get your age in check over at Genome Biology, February 2014