Ageing in humans (and animals) can be seen as either an inevitable process of wear and tear or as an inherent biological programme by which the lifespan of each species is more or less predetermined. Recent research has shown that DNA methylation, an epigenetic modification which alters how DNA is read and expressed without altering the underlying sequence, can show age-related changes.
But, how does this epigenetic clock work? Researchers…have now identified a mouse epigenetic ageing clock. This work…shows that changes in DNA methylation at 329 sites in the genome are predictive of age in the mouse with an accuracy of +/- 3.3 weeks.
Using the mouse model, researchers also showed that lifestyle interventions known to shorten lifespan sped up the clock. For example, removing the ovaries in female mice accelerates the clock, something that is also observed in early menopause in women. And interestingly a high fat diet which we know is detrimental to human health also accelerates the ageing clock.
“Dissecting the mechanism of this mouse epigenetic ageing clock will yield valuable insights into the ageing process and how it can be manipulated in a human setting to improve health span,” says Dr. Marc Jan Bonder, postdoctoral researcher at the European Bioinformatics Institute.
[Read the full study here]
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