Posted on 26 August 2021
Longevity briefs provides a short summary of novel research in biology, medicine, or biotechnology that caught the attention of our researchers in Oxford, due to its potential to improve our health, wellbeing, and longevity.
Why is this research important: Epigenetic clocks are currently all the rage when it comes to measuring our epigenetic age, a biomarker of our true biological age and therefore overall health status. To give a brief description, epigenetic clocks are biochemical tests that are currently our best method of calculating our biological age. They work by analysing how our genes in our genome are being regulated during ageing via the presence of methyl tags, which act as genetic switches turning on or off gene expression. As we age some genes are more associated with being switched on or off. By observing in which direction certain genes are switched we are able to determine if the individual being tested is biologically older or younger. If you’d like to read more about epigenetic clocks please check out some of our other articles which you can find here.
However, as previously mentioned, epigenetic clocks are currently only the best method we have so far, they are not perfect. Questions remain over how well they compare against more conventional methods of discerning an individual’s health status.
What did the researchers do: In a study recently published in the American Heart Association Journal, researchers investigated the association between GrimAge, a well-known epigenetic clock, and classic cardiovascular health (CVH) examinations to determine whether epigenetic clocks can be a useful biomarker for early detection of cardiovascular disease.
Key takeaway(s) from this research: The researchers found that every 1-point increase in the score from both CVH exams used was associated with reduced epigenetic age within a range of -0.21 to -0.83 years, shown by the epigenetic clock. These results demonstrate that accelerated epigenetic age, is associated with greater risk of cardiovascular disease. Revealing a link between epigenetics mechanisms and CVH, and therefore epigenetic age may be an effective biomarker of cardiovascular disease risk.