Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Researchers Learn to Measure the Aging Process in Young Adults

08.07.2015

Biomarkers show some young adults are aging three times faster than others

An international research team from the US, UK, Israel and New Zealand has found a way to measure the aging process in young adults  a much younger population than is usually tested in aging studies. Working with study participants age 26 to 38, the scientists identified factors that can determine whether people are aging faster or slower than their peers, and to quantify both their biological age and how quickly they are aging.


Measuring the aging process in young adults: Dr. Salomon Israel at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem’s Department of Psychology. (Photo: Hebrew University)

In a paper appearing today in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the researchers showed that even among young adults, a person's biological age may differ by many years from their actual chronological age. For example, among 38-year-olds studied, the participants' biological age was found to range from under 30 years old, to nearly 60 years old. That means that some participants' biological age was more than 20 years older than their birth certificates indicated.


DOWNLOAD HI-RES PHOTO
Measuring the aging process in young adults: Dr. Salomon Israel at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem’s Department of Psychology. (Photo: Hebrew University)
"This research shows that age-related decline is already happening in young adults who are decades away from developing age-related diseases, and that we can measure it," said Dr. Salomon Israel, a researcher and senior lecturer in the Hebrew University of Jerusalem's Department of Psychology, and a co-author of the study. Dr. Israel joined the Hebrew University's faculty in January 2015 after completing a postdoctoral fellowship in psychology of neuroscience at Duke University.

The data comes from the Dunedin Study, a long-term health study in New Zealand that seeks clues to the aging process. The study tracks over a thousand people born in 1972-73 from birth to the present, using health measures like blood pressure, liver function, and interviews.

As part of their regular reassessment of the study population in 2011, the team measured the functions of kidneys, liver, lungs, metabolic and immune systems. They also measured HDL cholesterol, cardiorespiratory fitness, lung function and the length of the telomeres -- protective caps at the end of chromosomes that have been found to shorten with age. The study also measures dental health and the condition of the tiny blood vessels at the back of the eyes, a proxy for the brain’s blood vessels.

Based on a subset of these biomarkers, the research team determined a biological age for each participant. The researchers then looked at 18 biomarkers that were measured when the participants were age 26, and again when they were 32 and 38. From this, they drew a slope for each variable, and then the 18 slopes were added for each study subject to determine that individual’s pace of aging.

Most participants clustered around an aging rate of one year per year, but others were found to be aging as fast as three years per chronological year. Many were aging at zero years per year, in effect staying younger than their age.

As the team expected, those who were biologically older at age 38 also appeared to have been aging at a faster pace. A biological age of 40, for example, meant that person was aging at a rate of 1.2 years per year over the 12 years the study examined.

Study members who appeared to be more advanced in biological aging scored worse on tests typically given to people over 60, including tests of balance and coordination and solving unfamiliar problems. The biologically older individuals also reported having more difficulties with physical functioning than their peers, such as walking up stairs.

As an added measure, the researchers asked Duke University undergraduate students to assess facial photos of the study participants taken at age 38 and rate how young or old they appeared. Again, the participants who were biologically older on the inside also appeared older to the college students.

“We set out to measure aging in these relatively young people,” said Dan Belsky, an assistant professor of geriatrics in Duke University’s Center for Aging and the study's first author. “Most studies of aging look at seniors, but if we want to be able to prevent age-related disease, we’re going to have to start studying aging in young people."

“That gives us some hope that medicine might be able to slow aging and give people more healthy active years,” said Terrie Moffitt, the Nannerl O. Keohane professor of psychology and neuroscience at Duke and the study's senior author.

The ultimate goal is to be able to intervene in the aging process itself, rather than addressing killers like heart disease or cancer in isolation.

"Accelerated aging in young adults predicts the symptoms of advanced aging that we see in older adults: deficits in cognitive and physical functioning, feelings of ill-health, and even an older appearance. The ability to measure how quickly a young person is aging may in the future enable us to engage in interventions that slow aging or target specific diseases,” the Hebrew University’s Dr. Israel said.

The research was funded by the New Zealand Health Research Council, U.S. National Institute on Aging, UK Medical Research Council, Jacobs Foundation and the Yad Hanadiv Rothschild Foundation.

CITATION: “Quantification of biological aging in young adults,” Daniel Belsky, Avshalom Caspi, et al. PNAS, July 7, 2015. DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1506264112 (link).

To contact Dr. Salomon Israel: salomon.israel@mail.huji.ac.il.

For more information:

Dov Smith
Hebrew University of Jerusalem
+972-2-5882844 / +972-54-8820860
dovs@savion.huji.ac.il

Dov Smith | Hebrew University of Jerusalem
Further information:
http://www.huji.ac.il

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Platinum nanoparticles for selective treatment of liver cancer cells
15.02.2019 | ETH Zurich

nachricht New molecular blueprint advances our understanding of photosynthesis
15.02.2019 | DOE/Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Regensburg physicists watch electron transfer in a single molecule

For the first time, an international team of scientists based in Regensburg, Germany, has recorded the orbitals of single molecules in different charge states in a novel type of microscopy. The research findings are published under the title “Mapping orbital changes upon electron transfer with tunneling microscopy on insulators” in the prestigious journal “Nature”.

The building blocks of matter surrounding us are atoms and molecules. The properties of that matter, however, are often not set by these building blocks...

Im Focus: University of Konstanz gains new insights into the recent development of the human immune system

Scientists at the University of Konstanz identify fierce competition between the human immune system and bacterial pathogens

Cell biologists from the University of Konstanz shed light on a recent evolutionary process in the human immune system and publish their findings in the...

Im Focus: Transformation through Light

Laser physicists have taken snapshots of carbon molecules C₆₀ showing how they transform in intense infrared light

When carbon molecules C₆₀ are exposed to an intense infrared light, they change their ball-like structure to a more elongated version. This has now been...

Im Focus: Famous “sandpile model” shown to move like a traveling sand dune

Researchers at IST Austria find new property of important physical model. Results published in PNAS

The so-called Abelian sandpile model has been studied by scientists for more than 30 years to better understand a physical phenomenon called self-organized...

Im Focus: Cryo-force spectroscopy reveals the mechanical properties of DNA components

Physicists from the University of Basel have developed a new method to examine the elasticity and binding properties of DNA molecules on a surface at extremely low temperatures. With a combination of cryo-force spectroscopy and computer simulations, they were able to show that DNA molecules behave like a chain of small coil springs. The researchers reported their findings in Nature Communications.

DNA is not only a popular research topic because it contains the blueprint for life – it can also be used to produce tiny components for technical applications.

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

Global Legal Hackathon at HAW Hamburg

11.02.2019 | Event News

The world of quantum chemistry meets in Heidelberg

30.01.2019 | Event News

Our digital society in 2040

16.01.2019 | Event News

 
Latest News

Gravitational waves will settle cosmic conundrum

15.02.2019 | Physics and Astronomy

Spintronics by 'straintronics'

15.02.2019 | Physics and Astronomy

Platinum nanoparticles for selective treatment of liver cancer cells

15.02.2019 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>