Corporate Banner
Satellite Banner
Technology
Networks
Scientific Communities
 
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 3,000+ scientific posters on ePosters
  • More Than 4,500+ 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

Ketamine Metabolism Lifts Depression
NIH-funded team finds rapid-acting, non-addicting agent in mouse study.
Thursday, May 05, 2016
Finding Factors That Protect Against Flu
A clinical trial examining the body’s response to seasonal flu suggests new approaches for evaluating the effectiveness of seasonal flu vaccines.
Wednesday, April 27, 2016
Factors Influencing Influenza Vaccine Effectiveness Uncovered
The long-held approach to predicting seasonal influenza vaccine effectiveness may need to be revisited, new research suggests.
Thursday, April 21, 2016
Study Finds Factors That May Influence Influenza Vaccine Effectiveness
Researchers at NIH have suggested that the long-held approach to predicting seasonal influenza vaccine effectiveness may need to be revisited.
Wednesday, April 20, 2016
Serotonin Transporter Structure Revealed
Researchers determined the 3-D structure of the serotonin transporter and visualized how two common antidepressants interact with the protein.
Wednesday, April 20, 2016
Improving Flu Vaccine Effectiveness
NIH study finds factors that may influence influenza vaccine effectiveness.
Wednesday, April 20, 2016
Submissions Open for the Cancer Moonshot Program
NCI opens online platform to submit ideas about research for Cancer Moonshot.
Tuesday, April 19, 2016
Migration Creates Cancer Cell Vulnerabilities
Scientists found that migration can damage cancer cells’ nuclei and DNA, requiring repairs for their survival. The results may open new avenues for targeting metastatic cancer.
Wednesday, April 13, 2016
NIH Sequences Genome of a Fungus
Researchers at the Institute have sequenced genome of human, mouse and rat Pneumocystis that cause life-threatening Pneumonia in immunosuppressed hosts.
Tuesday, April 12, 2016
NIH Awards Grants to Explore Vaccine Adjuvants
NIH awards six grants to explore how combination adjuvants improve vaccines.
Wednesday, April 06, 2016
Children With Cushing Syndrome May Have Higher Suicide Risk
Researchers at NIH have found that depression, anxiety and suicidal thoughts increase after treatment.
Wednesday, March 30, 2016
Experimental Vaccine Protects Against Dengue Virus
An experimental dengue vaccine protected all the volunteers who received it from infection with a live dengue virus.
Wednesday, March 30, 2016
Couples’ Pre-Pregnancy Caffeine Consumption Linked to Miscarriage Risk
Researchers at NIH have found daily multivitamin before and after conception greatly reduces miscarriage risk.
Friday, March 25, 2016
Study Finds Mindfulness Meditation Offers Relief For Low-Back Pain
Researchers at NIH have found that the MBSR and CBT may prove more effective than usual treatment in alleviating chronic low-back pain.
Wednesday, March 23, 2016
3-D Technology Enriches Human Nerve Cells For Transplant to Brain
This platform is expected to make transplantation of neurons a viable treatment for a broad range of human neurodegenerative disorders.
Friday, March 18, 2016
Scientific News
Ketamine Metabolism Lifts Depression
NIH-funded team finds rapid-acting, non-addicting agent in mouse study.
Faster, Cheaper Way to Produce New Antibiotics
A novel way of synthesising a promising new antibiotic has been identified by scientists at the University of Bristol.
Process Contaminants in Vegetable Oils and Foods
Glycerol-based process contaminants found in palm oil, but also in other vegetable oils, margarines and some processed foods, raise potential health concerns for average consumers of these foods in all young age groups, and for high consumers in all age groups.
Improving Natural Killer Cancer Therapy
Vanderbilt University researchers discover transcription factor critical for NK cell expansion. Findings could lead to increased therapeutic efficacy.
Molecular Mechanism For Generating Specific Antibody Responses Discovered
Study could spur more ways to treat autoimmune disease, develop accurate vaccines.
Monovar Drills Down Into Cancer Genome
Rice, MD Anderson develop program to ID mutations in single cancer cells.
It’s Now Easier To Go With The Flow
Rice University tool simplifies comparison of flow cytometry data for laboratories.
Autism, Cancer Share a Remarkable Number of Risk Genes
Researchers with the UC Davis Comprehensive Cancer Center, MIND Institute identify more than 40 common genes.
Number Of Known Genetic Risk Factors For Endometrial Cancer Doubled
An international collaboration of researchers has identified five new gene regions that increase a woman’s risk of developing endometrial cancer, one of the most common cancers to affect women, taking the number of known gene regions associated with the disease to nine.
Genetic Variant May Help Explain Why Labradors Are Prone To Obesity
A genetic variation associated with obesity and appetite in Labrador retrievers – the UK and US’s favourite dog breed – has been identified by scientists at the University of Cambridge. The finding may explain why Labrador retrievers are more likely to become obese than dogs of other breeds.
Scroll Up
Scroll Down
Skyscraper Banner

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
3,000+ scientific and medical posters
A library of 2,500+ scientific videos on LabTube
4,500+ scientific videos
Close
Premium CrownJOIN TECHNOLOGY NETWORKS PREMIUM FOR FREE!