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Young Blood: Plasma Treatment More than Halves Epigenetic Age in Old Rats

Posted on 14 May 2020

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A preprint study published in bioRxiv reports that treatment with plasma fractions had substantial rejuvenating effects on the epigenetic clock in older rats, as well as on multiple other markers of ageing.

DNA methylation, the modification of gene expression by the addition of methyl groups, is a process that occurs throughout life. DNA methylation levels form the basis of the epigenetic clock – a highly accurate marker of ageing. While young blood plasma has previously been shown to have rejuvenating effects in animals, this study is the first to examine these effects at the epigenetic level across multiple tissues.

Researchers found that treatment, which consists of four intravenous doses of plasma fraction, reduced epigenetic age by over 50% on average.

Crucially, plasma treatment of the old rats [109 weeks] reduced the epigenetic ages of blood, liver and heart by a very large and significant margin, to levels that are comparable with the young rats [30 weeks][…].According to the final version of the epigenetic clocks, the average rejuvenation across four tissues was 54.2%. In other words, the treatment more than halved the epigenetic age.

(2020). Retrieved 14 May 2020, from
Relative DNA methylation across different tissues in untreated old, untreated young, and treated old rats.
(2020). Retrieved 14 May 2020, from

The treatment also improved cognitive and organ function, as well as having a number of additional effects associated with youthfulness. These included reduced cellular senescence, lower oxidative stress and decreased levels of certain inflammatory molecules.

These findings add weight to a theory of ageing that has been gaining increasing support: the idea that signals driving cellular ageing are transmitted system-wide via the blood, and that the resulting epigenetic changes are significant, if not primary drivers of ageing. This offers promise for the use of plasma-based treatments in humans, several of which were already being explored prior to this research. Up until now, a major challenge has been identifying, from amidst the thousands of molecules that are carried in the blood in tiny concentrations, which ones are responsible for ageing.

The rejuvenation of non-blood organs from this intravenous treatment, coupled with reversal of the epigenetic clock within these organs supports the notion that aging can be systemically controlled, at least in part through the circulatory system with plasma as the medium. It is important to appreciate the potential step change in health care that plasma fraction treatment and epigenetic clocks can introduce. Instead of treatment of one disease at a time and eventually co-morbidities, plasma fraction treatment, by rejuvenation of the body, may be able to systemically reduce the risk of the onset of several diseases in the first place.

(2020). Retrieved 14 May 2020, from

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