Corporate Banner
Satellite Banner
Biomolecular Screening
Scientific Community
 
Become a Member | Sign in
Home>News>This Article
  News
Return

Epigenetic Clock Marks Age of Human Tissues and Cells

Published: Tuesday, November 05, 2013
Last Updated: Tuesday, November 05, 2013
Bookmark and Share
The age of many human tissues and cells is reflected in chemical changes to DNA. The finding provides insights for cancer, aging, and stem cell research.

We may gauge how we’re aging based on visible changes, such as wrinkles. For years, scientists have been trying to gauge aging based on changes inside our cells.

Many alterations occur to our DNA as we age. Some of these changes are epigenetic—they modify DNA without altering the genetic sequence itself. These changes affect how cells in different parts of the body use the same genetic code. By controlling when specific genes are turned on and off, or “expressed,” they tell cells what to do, where to do it, and when to do it.

One such type of modification occurs when chemical tags known as methyl groups attach to DNA in specific places. This process, known as methylation, affects interactions between DNA and protein-making machinery. Changes in DNA methylation—both increases and decreases—occur with aging.

Dr. Steve Horvath from the University of California, Los Angeles, examined the relationship between DNA methylation and aging. He took advantage of publicly available methylation datasets, including ones from The Cancer Genome Atlas, a joint effort of NIH’s National Cancer Institute (NCI) and National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI). The datasets were developed by hundreds of researchers and comprised almost 8,000 samples of 51 healthy tissues and cell types. Samples came from people ranging in age from newborns to 101 years. They included tissues from throughout the body, including the brain, breast, skin, colon, kidney, liver, lung, and heart.

Horvath first developed an age predictor using 39 datasets. The tool was based on 353 specific DNA sites where methyl groups increased or decreased with age. He then tested the predictor in 32 additional datasets. Results appeared in the October 21, 2013, issue of Genome Biology.

Horvath found that the computed biological age based on DNA methylation closely predicted the chronological age of numerous tissues and cells to within just a few years. There were some tissues, however, where the biological age did not match the chronological age. These included skeletal muscle, heart tissue, and breast tissue. The clock also worked well in chimpanzees.

In both embryonic and induced pluripotent stem cells—genetically altered adult cells with characteristics of embryonic stem cells—the DNA methylation age proved to be near zero.

Horvath also analyzed nearly 6,000 samples from 20 different cancers and found that cancer greatly affected DNA methylation age. However, in most cancers the age acceleration didn’t reflect the tumor grade and stage.

The rate of ticking of the biological clock, as measured by the rates of change in DNA methylation, wasn’t constant. It was faster from birth to adulthood, and then slowed to a constant rate around the age of 20.

Horvath didn’t find evidence of a relationship with DNA methylation age in B cells (a type of white blood cell) from people with a premature aging disease (progeria).

“Pinpointing a set of biomarkers that keeps time throughout the body has been a 4-year challenge,” Horvath says. “My goal in inventing this age-predictive tool is to help scientists improve their understanding of what speeds up and slows down the human aging process.”

UCLA has filed a provisional patent on the age-predictive tool, which is freely available to scientists online. Horvath plans to examine whether DNA methylation is only a marker of aging or itself affects aging.


Further Information

Join For Free

Access to this exclusive content is for Technology Networks Premium members only.

Join Technology Networks Premium for free access to:

  • Exclusive articles
  • Presentations from international conferences
  • Over 3,500+ scientific posters on ePosters
  • More than 5,000+ scientific videos on LabTube
  • 35 community eNewsletters


Sign In



Forgotten your details? Click Here
If you are not a member you can join here

*Please note: By logging into TechnologyNetworks.com you agree to accept the use of cookies. To find out more about the cookies we use and how to delete them, see our privacy policy.

Related Content

Detecting Bacterial Infections in Newborns
Researchers tested an alternative way to diagnose bacterial infections in infants—by analyzing RNA biosignatures from a small blood sample.
Wednesday, September 14, 2016
Finding Compounds That Inhibit Zika
Researchers identified compounds that inhibit the Zika virus and reduce its ability to kill brain cells.
Wednesday, September 14, 2016
Seeking Innovation to Combat Antimicrobial Resistance
Federal prize competition, with $20 million in prizes, seeks to develop new laboratory diagnostic tools to detect and distinguish antibiotic resistant bacteria.
Friday, September 09, 2016
$12.4M Awarded to Neural Regeneration Projects
The National Institutes of Health will fund six projects to identify biological factors that influence neural regeneration.
Friday, September 02, 2016
How Parkinson’s Disease Alters Brain Activity Over Time
The NIH study provides a new tool for testing experimental medications aimed at alleviating symptoms and slowing the rate at which the diseases damage the brain.
Tuesday, August 16, 2016
Developing Software for Drug Development
NIH-led researchers develop software that could facilitate drug development to identify molecules that bind with high precision to targets of interest.
Monday, August 01, 2016
Molecule May Affect Gaucher, Parkinson's Disease
Research has identified a molecule that restores activity of a dysfunctional enzyme linked to Gaucher and Parkinson's disease.
Wednesday, July 27, 2016
Treatment Advancement for Gaucher and Parkinson's Diseases
NIH scientists identify molecule that may act as a possible treatment of neurological diseases.
Wednesday, July 13, 2016
Advancing Protein Visualization
Cryo-EM methods can determine structures of small proteins bound to potential drug candidates.
Friday, May 27, 2016
Visualizing a Cancer Drug Target at Atomic Resolution
Using cryo-electron microscopy, researchers were able to view, in atomic detail, the binding of a potential small molecule drug to a key protein in cancer cells.
Wednesday, February 10, 2016
Genomic Signature Shared by Five Types of Cancer
National Institutes of Health researchers have identified a striking signature in tumor DNA that occurs in five different types of cancer.
Monday, February 08, 2016
Experimental Combination Surprises with Anti-HIV Effectiveness
A compound developed to protect the nervous system from HIV surprised researchers by augmenting the effectiveness of an investigational antiretroviral drug beyond anything expected.
Monday, January 25, 2016
NIH Unveils FY2016–2020 Strategic Plan
Detailed plan sets course for advancing scientific discoveries and human health.
Thursday, December 17, 2015
Biomarkers Outperform Symptoms in Parsing Psychosis Subgroups
Multiple biological pathways lead to similar symptoms - NIH-funded study.
Thursday, December 10, 2015
NIH Supports New Studies to Find Alzheimer’s Biomarkers in Down Syndrome
Initiative will track dementia onset, progress in Down syndrome volunteers.
Tuesday, December 01, 2015
Scientific News
Mass Spec Technology Drives Innovation Across the Biopharma Workflow
With greater resolving power, analytical speed, and accuracy, new mass spectrometry technology and techniques are infiltrating the biopharmaceuticals workflow.
One Step Closer to Precision Medicine for Chronic Lung Disease Sufferers
A study led by University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and National Jewish Health, has provided evidence of links between SNPs and known COPD blood protein biomarkers.
CES Score May Predict Response to Cancer Treatment
Researchers identify new type of biomarker that helps predict prognosis and response to several types of cancer treatment.
Treating Sepsis with Marine Mitochondria
Mitochondrial alternative oxidase from a marine animal combats bacterial sepsis.
New Therapeutic Target for Crohn’s Disease
A promising new target for drugs that treat IBD has been identified along with a possible biomarker for IBD severity.
Researchers Find Fungus-Fighting Compound
A compound has been identifed that blocks growth of a fungus responsible for lung infections and allergic reactions.
Analysing 10,000 Cells Simultaneously
New techniquethat traps 10,000 cells on a single chip has potential for cancer screening for individuals.
Peer Reviewed Study Demonstrates Mass Spec Technique
The peer reviewed study demonstrates MS workflow, TMTCalibrator workflow, which dramatically enhances detection of key early stage Alzheimer’s biomarkers.
Small Molecules Lead to a Big Change in Reaction Outcomes
Scientists have changed the behaviour of a group of molecules involved in carbon-oxygen bond synthesis.
Enhancing Antibiotics to Defeat Resistant Bacteria
Scientists enhance ability of antibiotics to defeat resistant types of bacteria using molecules called PPMOs
SELECTBIO

Skyscraper Banner
Go to LabTube
Go to eposters
 
Access to the latest scientific news
Exclusive articles
Upload and share your posters on ePosters
Latest presentations and webinars
View a library of 1,800+ scientific and medical posters
3,500+ scientific and medical posters
A library of 2,500+ scientific videos on LabTube
5,000+ scientific videos
Close
Premium CrownJOIN TECHNOLOGY NETWORKS PREMIUM FOR FREE!