23 June 2011

Your age will be determined by epigenetics

Researchers at the University of California at Los Angeles have developed and patented a reliable method for determining a person's age by analyzing saliva. The test is based on an assessment of the nature of methylation – one of their types of epigenetic (supra-genomic) DNA modifications. According to the head of the study, Professor Eric Vilain, both genes partially determine the nature of human aging, and environmental factors can change DNA with age. The nature of DNA methylation changes as the body ages and contributes to the development of age-related diseases.

As a result of DNA analysis of leukocytes and epithelial cells isolated from saliva samples of 34 pairs of identical male twins aged 21 to 55 years, the researchers identified 88 DNA sites, the nature of methylation of which showed a pronounced dependence on age. They confirmed the obtained data on saliva samples of 31 men and 29 women aged 18-70 years.

After that, they built a prognostic model based on the patterns of methylation of two of the three genes, which were characterized by the most pronounced relationship between the nature of methylation and age. The introduction of data on the participants of both experimental groups allowed us to determine their age with an accuracy of 5 years. To date, this degree of accuracy is unprecedented.

Vivian and his group assume that the test they developed will find application in criminology, since the analysis of saliva residues at the bite site or on the cup will significantly narrow the range of the suspect's age.

In a small number of people, the nature of methylation does not correlate with chronological age. The study of this minority in the future will allow specialists to determine the biological age of a person, in some cases not coinciding with the chronological (passport) age. This will allow doctors to assess the risk of age-related diseases and prescribe appropriate interventions based on the biological age of the patient, which will avoid unnecessary diagnostic and therapeutic procedures.

Currently, researchers are studying the validity of two opposite theoretical relationships: whether "biologically young" individuals live longer than representatives of the main population, and whether they are characterized by a better state of health, and vice versa – whether "elderly" biological age is associated with an increased risk of developing diseases and premature death.

Article by Sven Bocklandt et al. Epigenetic Predictor of Age is published on June 22 in PLoS ONE.

Evgeniya Ryabtseva
Portal "Eternal youth" www.vechnayamolodost.ru based on the materials of the University of California – UCLA scientists accurately predict age using just a saliva sample.


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