Apr 28, 2020

Recalibrating the Epigenetic Clock: Implications for Assessing Biological Age in the Human Cortex

BioRxiv : the Preprint Server for Biology
G. ShirebyJonathan Mill


Human DNA-methylation data have been used to develop biomarkers of ageing - referred to epigenetic clocks - that have been widely used to identify differences between chronological age and biological age in health and disease including neurodegeneration, dementia and other brain phenotypes. Existing DNA methylation clocks are highly accurate in blood but are less precise when used in older samples or on brain tissue. We aimed to develop a novel epigenetic clock that performs optimally in human cortex tissue and has the potential to identify phenotypes associated with biological ageing in the brain. We generated an extensive dataset of human cortex DNA methylation data spanning the life-course (n = 1,397, ages = 1 to 104 years). This dataset was split into training and testing samples (training: n = 1,047; testing: n = 350). DNA methylation age estimators were derived using a transformed version of chronological age on DNA methylation at specific sites using elastic net regression, a supervised machine learning method. The cortical clock was subsequently validated in a novel human cortex dataset (n = 1,221, ages = 41 to 104 years) and tested for specificity in a large whole blood dataset (n = 1,175, ages = 28 to 98 years). We id...Continue Reading

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