Multiple events case-control study in a prospective cohort to identify systemic, cellular, and molecular biomarkers of obesity-induced accelerated aging in 30-years-olds: the ObAGE study protocol

BMC Geriatr. 2022 May 2;22(1):387. doi: 10.1186/s12877-022-03032-4.


Background: Aging is characterized by a progressive loss of capacities linked to fundamental alterations/damage in multiple cellular and molecular pathways. It is the most significant risk factor for all non-communicable diseases (NCDs). Another contributing factor to the rise in NCDs is obesity. It has been suggested that obesity not only accelerates the onset of metabolic imbalances but also decreases lifespan and impacts cellular and molecular processes in a manner similar to aging. Obesity might accelerate the pace of aging. Guided by a lifecourse approach, we will explore how exposure to obesity in critical developmental stages disrupt homeostatic resilience mechanisms that preserve physiological integrity, inducing an early expression of aging phenotypes. Also, we will determine whether exposure to early psychosocial adversity influences vulnerability to obesity as a risk factor for accelerated aging.

Methods: Multiple events case-control study embedded in a prospective cohort of Chileans at 30-31y, 50% females, of low- to-middle socioeconomic status, who participated in nutrition research since birth. At 23y, 25% had obesity and cardiometabolic risk was high. We will use a multi-layer approach including: anthropometric assessment; DXA scan for body composition; abdominal ultrasound of the liver; stool samples collection and sequencing of the ribosomal RNA 16S gene to characterize the gut microbiome; determination of age-related pro-inflammatory cytokynes and anti-inflammatory miokynes. For the first time in Chile, we will address age-related epigenetic changes using the Horvath´s epigenetic clock. In a subset we will conduct a controlled physical challenge to characterize physical resilience (autophagy).

Discussion: ObAGE is in an excellent position to: approach aging as a process whose expression involves multiple factors from the early stages of a person's life; understand how longitudinal changes in health trajectories impact the biological mechanisms of aging; identify potential resilience mechanisms that help prevent unhealthy aging. Because SLS participants are still young, our research setting combined with advanced scientific techniques may identify individuals or groups at risk of early onset health issues. Results from ObAGE may pave the way to address the contribution of obesity to aging through lifespan from cells to systems and might be instrumental to developing interventions to improve health span in the Chilean population.

Trial registration: The proposed study does not consider any health care intervention on human participants.

Keywords: Aging; Dysbiosis; Early-onset cardiometabolic risk; Epigentic age; Obesity; Resilience; Sarcopenia.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aging* / physiology
  • Biomarkers
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Obesity* / diagnosis
  • Obesity* / epidemiology
  • Prospective Studies


  • Biomarkers