Epigenetic age: How old are you?

İrem Eldem
2 min readJul 5, 2020
Photo by Paolo Bendandi on Unsplash

Aging is the length of our existence. Who would not be interested in anti-aging? Think about it for a second, are you ready to accept all the changes in your body quickly?

The answer varies for sure, but developmental scientists are looking for ways to express our “personalized age,” which is different than chronological age. You have seen people who are in their 50s but look like in 40s or vice versa. For instance, the chronological age of my dog is 15 years, but she does not look like a human at 105 (=15x7, according to the older calculation system to convert dog age to humans). Recently it has been shown as we humans have a longer childhood time, and some of the dogs reproduce even at nine months of age, x7 rule works in the first part of their life but not later. According to epigenetic markers of aging, dog age has a non-linear relation with human age (1).

For mammal development, the aging rate varies at different stages of life. There is a way to track the aging: methylation of DNA. Your body ages with all of the organ systems, tissues, and cells. At the cellular level, genes get older with the accumulation of ‘methylation’ signals. Horvath and Raj wrote a scientific review on epigenetic aging and how we can affect the lifespan with different life styles (2).

If it is about the accumulation of the methyl signals in the DNA, this can lead to new drug discoveries of anti-aging.

The health disparities among different ethnicities, cultures, lifestyles; everything will affect your gene expression as they affect the methylation of DNA. For example, stress is a factor that can adversely affect your epigenetic age.

Wrapping it up:

  • Every person has their unique personalized age other than chronological age, depending on the gene expression changes accumulates by time.
  • Healthy life habits can affect the methylation process of your DNA, so do aging!

Hey dear, how old are you:)

References:

  1. Wang T, Ma J, Hogan AN, et al. Quantitative Translation of Dog-to-Human Aging by Conserved Remodeling of the DNA Methylome. Cell Systems. Published online July 2020:S2405471220302039. doi:10.1016/j.cels.2020.06.006
  2. Horvath S, Raj K. DNA methylation-based biomarkers and the epigenetic clock theory of ageing. Nat Rev Genet. 2018;19(6):371–384. doi:10.1038/s41576–018–0004–3

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