Association of subjective social status with epigenetic aging among Black and White women

Psychoneuroendocrinology. 2022 Jul;141:105748. doi: 10.1016/j.psyneuen.2022.105748. Epub 2022 Mar 25.


Objective: Subjective social status (SSS), an individual's assessment of their own social status in relation to others, is associated with health and mortality independently of objective SES; however, no studies have tested whether SSS influences epigenetic aging. The current study examines if SSS is associated with epigenetic age acceleration in both Black and White women, independently of objective SES measured during both childhood and adulthood.

Method: For 9- and 10-year-old Black and White girls, parental education and annual household income was obtained. At ages 39-42, 361 participants (175 Black, 186 White) reported their current education, household income, and SSS, and provided saliva to assess age acceleration using the GrimAge epigenetic clock. Linear regression estimated the association of SSS with epigenetic age acceleration, controlling for objective SES (current education, current income, parents' education, income during childhood), smoking, and counts of cell types.

Results: When all objective SES variables were included in the model, SSS remained significantly associated with epigenetic age acceleration, b = - 0.31, p = .003, ß = - 0.15. Black women had significantly greater age acceleration than White women, (t(359) = 5.20, p > .001, d = 0.55) but race did not moderate the association between SSS and epigenetic age acceleration.

Conclusions: Women who rated themselves lower in SSS had greater epigenetic age acceleration, regardless of income and education. There was no difference by race for this association.

Keywords: Epigenetic age acceleration; Epigenetic clock; Race; Socioeconomic status; Subjective social status.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aging / genetics
  • Black People
  • Child
  • Epigenesis, Genetic / genetics
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Social Class*
  • Social Status*