Age and Sex Distributions of Age-Related Biomarker Values in Healthy Older Adults from the Long Life Family Study

J Am Geriatr Soc. 2016 Nov;64(11):e189-e194. doi: 10.1111/jgs.14522. Epub 2016 Oct 26.


Objectives: To determine reference values for laboratory tests in individuals aged 85 and older.

Design: Cross-sectional cohort study.

Setting: International.

Participants: Long Life Family Study (LLFS) participants (N~5,000, age: range 25-110, median 67, 45% male).

Measurements: Serum biomarkers were selected based on association with aging-related diseases and included complete blood count, lipids (triglycerides, high-density lipoprotein cholesterol, low-density lipoprotein cholesterol, total cholesterol), 25-hydroxyvitamin D2 and D3, vitamin D epi-isomer, diabetes mellitus-related biomarkers (adiponectin, insulin, insulin-like growth factor 1, glucose, glycosylated hemoglobin, soluble receptor for advanced glycation endproduct), kidney disease-related biomarkers (albumin, creatinine, cystatin), endocrine biomarkers (dehydroepiandrosterone, sex-hormone binding globulin, testosterone), markers of inflammation (interleukin 6, high-sensitivity C-reactive protein, N-terminal pro b-type natriuretic peptide), ferritin, and transferrin.

Results: Of 38 measured biomarkers, 34 were significantly correlated with age. Summary statistics were generated for all biomarkers according to sex and 5-year age increments from 50 and up after excluding participants with diseases and treatments that were associated with biomarkers. A biomarker data set was also generated that will be useful for other investigators seeking to compare biomarker levels between studies.

Conclusion: Levels of several biomarkers change with older age in healthy individuals. The descriptive statistics identified herein will be useful in future studies and, if replicated in additional studies, might also become useful in clinical practice. The availability of the reference data set will facilitate appropriate calibration of biomarkers measured in different laboratories.

Keywords: Long Life Family Study; healthy aging; reference values; serum biomarkers.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Biomarkers / analysis
  • Biomarkers / blood
  • Blood Cell Count* / methods
  • Blood Cell Count* / standards
  • Blood Glucose / analysis*
  • C-Reactive Protein* / analysis
  • C-Reactive Protein* / standards
  • Cohort Studies
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Insulin* / blood
  • Insulin* / standards
  • Iron-Binding Proteins* / blood
  • Iron-Binding Proteins* / standards
  • Lipids* / blood
  • Lipids* / standards
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Natriuretic Peptide, Brain* / blood
  • Natriuretic Peptide, Brain* / standards
  • Peptide Fragments* / blood
  • Peptide Fragments* / standards
  • Reference Values
  • Statistics as Topic
  • Testosterone* / blood
  • Testosterone* / standards
  • United States
  • Vitamin D / analogs & derivatives*
  • Vitamin D / blood
  • Vitamin D / standards


  • Biomarkers
  • Blood Glucose
  • Insulin
  • Iron-Binding Proteins
  • Lipids
  • Peptide Fragments
  • pro-brain natriuretic peptide (1-76)
  • Natriuretic Peptide, Brain
  • Vitamin D
  • Testosterone
  • C-Reactive Protein
  • 25-hydroxyvitamin D

Associated data

  • GENBANK/phs000397