The clock on the skin: the microbiome of the skin to predict age with high accuracy

Analysis of the skin microbiome allows you to determine the age of a person with an accuracy of four years, this was made possible thanks to an algorithm developed by scientists from the University of California (USA).

All organs of the human body that are in contact with the external environment are inhabited by microorganisms. Allocate the microbiome of different departments: respiratory tract, digestive system, genitourinary system, skin. 

The microbial landscape of different regions is characterized by a certain composition and constancy. The relationship between the colon microbiome and human health has been most studied: it was found that changes in the microbiota create prerequisites for the development of diabetes, Alzheimer's disease, allergic diseases, autism, etc. also, scientists were able to find out how the intestinal microbiome changes with age. 

The object of the study by California molecular biologists was the microbiome of the oral cavity (2550 samples were studied), as well as the skin of the forehead and hands (1975 samples were studied). Scientists were able to identify several interesting trends: 

  • The composition of the intestinal microbiome in men and women differs, while the skin and oral microbiome in different sexes is almost identical.
  • The skin microbiome, and the microbiome of the intestine changes with age. However, the composition of the microbial landscape of the intestine is transformed more slowly, so it is only possible to determine the biological age by its composition with an accuracy of 11.5 years. At the same time, the oral microbiome makes it possible to "predict" age with an accuracy of 4.5 years, and the skin microbiome — up to 3.8 years. Experts attributed this to the fact that the microbial composition of the skin and oral cavity is more influenced by external factors that act equally on all people. On the other hand, the microbial landscape of the intestine depends on the diet, lifestyle, and presence of diseases in a particular person. 
  • After death, the skin microbiome also undergoes characteristic changes. Scientists have developed an algorithm that allows determining the time elapsed since death by analyzing the microbial composition of the skin — this development will be used in forensic medicine.
Feb. 12, 2020, 11:54 a.m.

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