The proteins floating around in blood may be able to gauge whether someone is aging as expected, HealthDay News reports.
Researchers from Stanford University have linked 373 proteins to aging. As they report in Nature Medicine this week, the team examined nearly 3,000 proteins within plasma samples from 4,263 individuals between the ages of 18 years and 95 years old. They found that the levels of these proteins don't change smoothly over time, but that the levels of some proteins spike around certain ages, especially around the ages of 34, 60, and 78 years. They also noted that two-thirds of the proteins also changed with whether someone was male or female.
In particular, a panel of 373 proteins could accurately predict a person's age, the researchers say, adding that it could be applied to assess a person's overall health and lifespan, similar to epigenetic clocks. They note, though, that some people's predicted biological age differed from their actual age and that those who had a stronger hand grip and cognitive scores tended to have lower predicted ages.
Someday, HealthDay notes, the panel could be used as a blood test to identify people at higher risk of aging-related diseases, though the researchers note that any such applications are five to 10 years away.