A longitudinal analysis of the effects of age on the blood plasma metabolome in the common marmoset, Callithrix jacchus

Exp Gerontol. 2016 Apr;76:17-24. doi: 10.1016/j.exger.2016.01.007. Epub 2016 Jan 21.


Primates tend to be long-lived for their size with humans being the longest lived of all primates. There are compelling reasons to understand the underlying age-related processes that shape human lifespan. But the very fact of our long lifespan that makes it so compelling, also makes it especially difficult to study. Thus, in studies of aging, researchers have turned to non-human primate models, including chimpanzees, baboons, and rhesus macaques. More recently, the common marmoset, Callithrix jacchus, has been recognized as a particularly valuable model in studies of aging, given its small size, ease of housing in captivity, and relatively short lifespan. However, little is known about the physiological changes that occur as marmosets age. To begin to fill in this gap, we utilized high sensitivity metabolomics to define the longitudinal biochemical changes associated with age in the common marmoset. We measured 2104 metabolites from blood plasma at three separate time points over a 17-month period, and we completed both a cross-sectional and longitudinal analysis of the metabolome. We discovered hundreds of metabolites associated with age and body weight in both male and female animals. Our longitudinal analysis identified age-associated metabolic pathways that were not found in our cross-sectional analysis. Pathways enriched for age-associated metabolites included tryptophan, nucleotide, and xenobiotic metabolism, suggesting these biochemical pathways might play an important role in the basic mechanisms of aging in primates. Moreover, we found that many metabolic pathways associated with age were sex specific. Our work illustrates the power of longitudinal approaches, even in a short time frame, to discover novel biochemical changes that occur with age.

Keywords: Aging; Body weight; Longitudinal; Marmoset; Metabolic pathways; Metabolomics.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Age Factors
  • Aging / blood*
  • Animals
  • Biomarkers / blood
  • Body Weight
  • Callithrix / blood*
  • Female
  • Longevity
  • Male
  • Metabolome*
  • Metabolomics / methods
  • Sex Factors


  • Biomarkers