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BMC, Genome Biology, 1(16), p. 25

DOI: 10.1186/s13059-015-0584-6



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DNA methylation age of blood predicts all-cause mortality in later life

This paper is made freely available by the publisher.
This paper is made freely available by the publisher.

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Abstract Background DNA methylation levels change with age. Recent studies have identified biomarkers of chronological age based on DNA methylation levels. It is not yet known whether DNA methylation age captures aspects of biological age. Results Here we test whether differences between people’s chronological ages and estimated ages, DNA methylation age, predict all-cause mortality in later life. The difference between DNA methylation age and chronological age (Δ age ) was calculated in four longitudinal cohorts of older people. Meta-analysis of proportional hazards models from the four cohorts was used to determine the association between Δ age and mortality. A 5-year higher Δ age is associated with a 21% higher mortality risk, adjusting for age and sex. After further adjustments for childhood IQ, education, social class, hypertension, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and APOE e4 status, there is a 16% increased mortality risk for those with a 5-year higher Δ age . A pedigree-based heritability analysis of Δ age was conducted in a separate cohort. The heritability of Δ age was 0.43. Conclusions DNA methylation-derived measures of accelerated aging are heritable traits that predict mortality independently of health status, lifestyle factors, and known genetic factors.