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Determination of age by proteins in the blood?
A new method of testing for proteins in the blood provides important information about a person's health and age. In addition, the examination can also assess the risk of diseases before they even occur.
A recent study by the Stanford University School of Medicine found that proteins in our blood provide important clues to our age and state of health. The results of the study were published in the English-language journal "Nature Medicine".
Protein levels in the blood indicate our age
When people try to estimate the age of others, they rely on aspects of appearance, such as posture, hair, or the number of wrinkles. Researchers can now estimate age without knowing a person's appearance. To do this, they examine the levels of various proteins in our blood.
How certain proteins indicate health risks
The level of 373 proteins that circulate in our blood can indicate health problems and age. For example, the level of lipoproteins indicates our cardiovascular health.
Protein content changes over the course of life
The researchers found that around a third of all the proteins examined in the study change significantly with age. Changes in the levels of the numerous proteins that migrate from the body's tissues into circulating blood may not only indicate age, they may even cause aging or are involved in the aging process, the researchers suspect.
Identify health changes from proteins
The study analyzed plasma from 4,263 people aged 18 to 95 years. If the relative content of proteins changes significantly, this also indicates changes in the body. The analysis of thousands of proteins in the plasma gives a snapshot of all processes in the body, so to speak.
When do particularly strong changes occur?
The results of the study suggest that physiological aging does not simply occur at a completely steady pace. Rather, there seem to be three important points in life at the age of 34, 60 and 78 years at which significant changes in the number of proteins can be detected.
Groups of people were examined, no individuals
The researchers examined the compound concentrations of proteins within groups of people, not in individuals. This resulted in a formula that is able to limit the age of most individuals in a range of around three years.
Too low an estimate of age indicates good health
It was noticed that people whose age was estimated to be much lower due to the proteins were remarkably healthy for their age. When measuring the levels of approximately 3,000 proteins in the plasma of each individual person, the team identified 1,379 proteins, the levels of which varied greatly depending on the age of the participants.
Significant deviations were observed
A reduced set of 373 of these proteins was sufficient to predict the age of the participants with great accuracy. But there were cases of significant discrepancies between the chronological and physiological ages of the subjects examined.
Predicting Alzheimer's or cardiovascular diseases through blood sampling?
It will certainly take five to ten years before the new technology is used in clinical applications. With a further validation, the technology could determine which people age particularly quickly, which could also predict the risk of age-related diseases such as Alzheimer's or cardiovascular diseases.
Testing could help slow premature aging
So medication can be taken or other therapeutic interventions initiated, which are able to slow down the aging process. In addition, unexpected tendencies of drugs to accelerate the aging process can be identified, which enables affected people to switch to other drugs.
Nine proteins are enough to predict age
Prediction is even possible with just nine proteins. However, the evaluation of other proteins improves the prediction accuracy. By including artificial intelligence, a reliable test could be developed that is based on only nine proteins. (as)
Author and source information
This text corresponds to the requirements of the medical literature, medical guidelines and current studies and has been checked by medical doctors.
- Benoit Lehallier, David Gate, Nicholas Schaum, Tibor Nanasi, Song Eun Lee et al .: Undulating changes in human plasma proteome profiles across the lifespan, in Nature Medicine (query: 06.12.2019), Nature Medicine