Epigenetic clock in the brain shows the real age of the person

The concept of epigenetic clocks, by which one can judge the biological age of a person, is not new. There are methods that by the methyl marks on the DNA of various cells of the body (most often blood cells) help to detect the trends in aging. Scientists from the University of Exeter (England) for the first time in the history of science have developed epigenetic clocks to determine the real age of brain cells. Specialists say that the method they created allows to detect early signs of aging with high accuracy.

When scientists talk about biological age other than chronological age, they mean the individual characteristics of the development of changes characteristic of aging. Epigenetic clock is a rather innovative concept that allows to detect the tendency to early aging even before the appearance of age changes and diseases. Specialists detect the so-called methyl tags on a DNA molecule: these are the places of attachment of methyl groups " switching on" and "off" certain genes, but not affecting the structure of genetic material.

The epigenetic clock for the human brain, developed by scientists from Exeter, is more accurate than the earlier "clock models" that determine a person's biological age by the methyl tags in body and blood cells. The brain is the organ that suffers most from aging. According to English experts, the method developed by them will allow determining the real biological age of neurons with high precision. This will help to identify, at an early stage, adverse age-related changes leading to memory impairment and dementia development, including Alzheimer's disease.

- The epigenetic brain clock we developed will help us better understand the mechanisms involved in aging," said Professor Jonathan Mill, one of the authors. - They will help us identify the causes of accelerated aging and learn more about the factors that lead to age-related brain diseases, including dementia.

Photo: radio-canada.ca

Nov. 3, 2020, 10:40 a.m.

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