Cell division is important in human aging and cancer. The estimation of the number of cell divisions (mitotic age) of a given tissue type in individuals is of great interest as it allows not only the study of biological aging (using a new molecular aging target) but also the stratification of prospective cancer risk. Here, we introduce the MiAge Calculator, a mitotic age calculator based on a novel statistical framework, the MiAge model. MiAge is designed to quantitatively estimate mitotic age (total number of lifetime cell divisions) of a tissue using the stochastic replication errors accumulated in the epigenetic inheritance process during cell divisions. With the MiAge model, the MiAge Calculator was built using the training data of DNA methylation measures of 4,020 tumor and adjacent normal tissue samples from eight TCGA cancer types and was tested using the testing data of DNA methylation measures of 2,221 tumor and adjacent normal tissue samples of five other TCGA cancer types. We showed that within each of the thirteen cancer types studied, the estimated mitotic age is universally accelerated in tumor tissues compared to adjacent normal tissues. Across the thirteen cancer types, we showed that worse cancer survivals are associated with more accelerated mitotic age in tumor tissues. Importantly, we demonstrated the utility of mitotic age by showing that the integration of mitotic age and clinical information leads to improved survival prediction in six out of the thirteen cancer types studied. The MiAge Calculator is available at http://www.columbia.edu/∼sw2206/softwares.htm .
Keywords: DNA methylation; cell divisions; mitotic age; statistical method.