NEW YORK – Using metabolomic and other multiomic features, a team from China, Russia, and Singapore has estimated biological ages in different organ systems from thousands of young adults, where biological aging appeared to vary from organ to organ.
"At present, to a person who is aging faster than average, one can hardly tell which part of the body is abnormal and how to improve it," senior and co-corresponding author Xun Xu, director of BGI-Research at BGI-Shenzhen, who is also affiliated with China National GeneBank, and his co-authors wrote. "Our comprehensive evaluations of the aging rates using multiomic biomarkers could provide more detailed information, not only on which part of the body is dysfunctional but also to specifically suggest gene- or pathway-targeted interventions/drugs."
As they reported in Cell Reports on Tuesday, the researchers obtained blood and stool samples from nearly 4,100 Shenzhen-area volunteers between 20 and 45 years old, who also performed a series of physical fitness assessments and had facial skin imaging done. By measuring more than 400 metabolomic, biochemical, gut microbial, immune repertoire sequencing, and other features in the participants, together with available genome sequence, clinical, and deep phenotypic data, they saw signs that different organs and organ systems can age at different rates in the same individual.
"Most human aging studies have been conducted on older populations and in cohorts with a high incidence of chronic diseases," co-corresponding author Brian Kennedy, a longevity researcher at the National University of Singapore and the National University Health System's Centre for Health Longevity, said in a statement. "Because the aging process in young healthy adults is largely unknown and some studies have suggested that age-related changes could be detected in people as young as their 20s, we decided to focus on this age range."
Those results were shored up using data for nearly 3,900 more individuals from the US National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, the team noted, while aging rate index analyses of liver aging and nonalcoholic fatty liver disease suggested that the biological age of a given organ can offer insights into related diseases or phenotypes.
Using data for 2,178 centenarians and nearly 2,300 middle-aged individuals enrolled in the Chinese Longitudinal Healthy Longevity Survey, meanwhile, the team demonstrated that polygenic risk scores gleaned from the data could help to predict biological age, providing clues about which individuals in a group are most likely to reach 100 years old.
The PRS for skin aging was significantly linked to longevity in the researchers' analyses, while other biological age-related risk scores for other organ systems "predicted longevity at a nominally significant level."
"Our study used approaches that can help improve our understanding of aging and — more importantly — could be used some day in real healthcare practice," Xu said in a statement, noting that the team "used biomarkers that could be identified from blood and stool samples plus some measurements from a routine body checkup."