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Study Points to Epigenetic Marker of Healthy Aging in Women

An epigenetic measurement of an individual's biologic age versus chronological age appears to function as a biomarker of cognitive function and health in older women, according to a study appearing this week in JAMA Network Open. Previous studies have linked age-related disease and mortality to epigenetic age, which is a composite measure of DNA methylation (DNAm) levels across specific cytosine-guanine dinucleotide sites that together form a single measure associated with chronological or phenotypic age. To further investigate, a team led by scientists from the University of California, San Diego, performed a secondary analysis of genome-wide DNAm data on around 1,800 older participants in the Women's Health Initiative. The researchers find that participants with increased epigenetic age acceleration (EAA) — the difference between epigenetic age and chronological age — were less likely to live to 90 years old with intact mobility and cognitive functioning. "Future studies could usefully focus on the potential for public health interventions to reduce EAA and associated disease burden while increasing longevity," they write.

The Scan

Machine Learning Helps ID Molecular Mechanisms of Pancreatic Islet Beta Cell Subtypes in Type 2 Diabetes

The approach helps overcome limitations of previous studies that had investigated the molecular mechanisms of pancreatic islet beta cells, the authors write in their Nature Genetics paper.

Culture-Based Methods, Shotgun Sequencing Reveal Transmission of Bifidobacterium Strains From Mothers to Infants

In a Nature Communications study, culture-based approaches along with shotgun sequencing give a better picture of the microbial strains transmitted from mothers to infants.

Microbial Communities Can Help Trees Adapt to Changing Climates

Tree seedlings that were inoculated with microbes from dry, warm, or cold sites could better survive drought, heat, and cold stress, according to a study in Science.

A Combination of Genetics and Environment Causes Cleft Lip

In a study published in Nature Communications, researchers investigate what combination of genetic and environmental factors come into play to cause cleft lip/palate.