Biological age--what is it and can it be measured?

Arch Gerontol Geriatr. 2003 Mar-Apr;36(2):103-15. doi: 10.1016/s0167-4943(02)00060-2.


Biological age is a concept used loosely and with little objectivity to describe a shortfall between a population cohort average life expectancy and the perceived life expectancy of an individual of the same age. Many biomarkers decline roughly linearly with age with a slope of <1% per annum. The use of a battery of 16 biomarkers is described as a method of calculating an individual biological age. They include: the concentration of prostacyclin in fibroblasts, cell membrane viscosity, the electroretinogram, baroreflex regulation of the heart rate, the concentration of lymphocytes, leucocyte density and velocity, grip strength, cells of the corneal endothelium and the buccal epithelium, neck muscle mobility, and vital capacity. Although not subjected to a prospective validation, the method might provide an objective approach to this widely used concept.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Aging / physiology*
  • Biomarkers / analysis*
  • Cause of Death
  • Female
  • Geriatric Assessment
  • Humans
  • Life Expectancy*
  • Life Tables
  • Longevity / physiology*
  • Male
  • Models, Theoretical
  • Mortality / trends*
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • United Kingdom


  • Biomarkers