Estimation of chimpanzee age based on DNA methylation

Sci Rep. 2018 Jul 3;8(1):9998. doi: 10.1038/s41598-018-28318-9.


In wild animal conservation, knowing the age of an individual animal is extremely beneficial. However, estimating the age is difficult for many species. Recently, epigenetics-based methods of estimating age have been reported. These studies were predominantly on humans with few reports on other animals, especially wild animals. In the present study, a chimpanzee (Pan troglodytes) age prediction model was developed based on the ELOVL2, CCDC102B, and ZNF423 genes that may also have application in human age prediction. Pyrosequencing was used to measure methylation in 20 chimpanzee blood samples and correlation between age and methylation status was calculated. Age and methylation of sites in ELOVL2 and CCDC102B were significantly correlated and an age prediction model was created using these genes. In the regression equation using only ELOVL2, the highest correlation coefficient was 0.741, with a mean absolute deviation (MAD) of 5.41, compared with the combination of ELOVL2 and CCDC102B, where the highest correlation coefficient was 0.742 and the MAD was 5.41. Although larger MADs were observed in chimpanzees than in humans based on these genes, the results indicate the feasibility of estimating chimpanzee age using DNA methylation, and can have implications in understanding the ecology of chimpanzees and chimpanzee conservation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Age Factors
  • Animals
  • CpG Islands
  • DNA Methylation / genetics*
  • Epigenesis, Genetic / genetics
  • Epigenomics / methods
  • Forecasting / methods
  • Forensic Genetics / methods
  • Pan troglodytes / genetics*
  • Pan troglodytes / metabolism*
  • Sequence Analysis, DNA