DNA methylation aging clocks: challenges and recommendations

Bell, Christopher G.; Lowe, Robert; Adams, Peter D.; Baccarelli, Andrea A.; Beck, Stephan; Bell, Jordana T.; Christensen, Brock C.; Gladyshev, Vadim N.; Heijmans, Bastiaan T.; Horvath, Steve; Ideker, Trey; Issa, Jean-Pierre J.; Kelsey, Karl T.; Marioni, Riccardo E.; Reik, Wolf; Relton, Caroline L.; Schalkwyk, Leonard C.; Teschendorff, Andrew E.; Wagner, Wolfgang; Zhang, Kang; Rakyan, Vardhman K.

Epigenetic clocks comprise a set of CpG sites whose DNA methylation levels measure subject age. These clocks are acknowledged as a highly accurate molecular correlate of chronological age in humans and other vertebrates. Also, extensive research is aimed at their potential to quantify biological aging rates and test longevity or rejuvenating interventions. Here, we discuss key challenges to understand clock mechanisms and biomarker utility. This requires dissecting the drivers and regulators of age-related changes in single-cell, tissue- and disease-specific models, as well as exploring other epigenomic marks, longitudinal and diverse population studies, and non-human models. We also highlight important ethical issues in forensic age determination and predicting the trajectory of biological aging in an individual.


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December 20, 2022