Back to the future: Epigenetic clock plasticity towards healthy aging

Mech Ageing Dev. 2018 Sep;174:18-29. doi: 10.1016/j.mad.2018.01.002. Epub 2018 Jan 11.


Aging is the most important risk factor for major human lifestyle diseases, including cancer, neurological and cardiometabolic disorders. Due to the complex interplay between genetics, lifestyle and environmental factors, some individuals seem to age faster than others, whereas centenarians seem to have a slower aging process. Therefore, a biochemical biomarker reflecting the relative biological age would be helpful to predict an individual's health status and aging disease risk. Although it is already known for years that cumulative epigenetic changes occur upon aging, DNA methylation patterns were only recently used to construct an epigenetic clock predictor for biological age, which is a measure of how well your body functions compared to your chronological age. Moreover, the epigenetic DNA methylation clock signature is increasingly applied as a biomarker to estimate aging disease susceptibility and mortality risk. Finally, the epigenetic clock signature could be used as a lifestyle management tool to monitor healthy aging, to evaluate preventive interventions against chronic aging disorders and to extend healthy lifespan. Dissecting the mechanism of the epigenetic aging clock will yield valuable insights into the aging process and how it can be manipulated to improve health span.

Keywords: Age; Aging; Clock; Diet; Disease; Epigenetic; Healthy; Inflammation; Lifestyle; Nutrition.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Aging / physiology*
  • Animals
  • DNA Methylation / physiology*
  • Epigenesis, Genetic / physiology*
  • Humans