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Aging is an inevitable process, but there are differences in susceptibility to age-related diseases and the risk of death among people of the same chronological age. This means that different people have differences in the rates of biological aging. To better understand the differences between biological and chronological age, it is necessary to measure biological aging. For this purpose, various calculators of biological age have been developed, which allow us to assess the impact of lifestyle on the aging process. One such biomarker is DNAm PhenoAge, a biological age biomarker developed at Yale University. DNAm PhenoAge significantly outperforms previous measurements in predicting various aging outcomes, including all-cause mortality, cancer, health span, physical functioning, and Alzheimer’s disease1.

This article was last reviewed by Svetlana Baloban, Healsens, on March 4, 2023. This article was last modified on 28 February 2023.

What is Biological Age by DNAm PhenoAge?

DNAm PhenoAge is an aging biomarker developed at Yale University that measures a person’s biological age. It is based on data from NHANES III and includes 9 biomarkers, such as the number of red and white blood cells, as well as a person’s chronological age. It is capable of predicting risks of various aging outcomes in tissues and cells and provides insight into important pathways of aging2. The DNAm PhenoAge biomarker has been validated in NHANES IV as a strong predictor of morbidity and mortality risk, and has been tested for accuracy in calculations on several patient cohorts taking into account age-related outcomes.

So, the biological age according to DNAm PhenoAge is a fairly accurate predictor of healthspan and lifespan at the epigenetic level. This means that biological age according to DNAm PhenoAge can be used as an indicator of a person’s health status before any pathologies appear. For most people, this can be a good indicator of the real state of their health before they encounter any diagnoses.

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How to determine your biological age?

To calculate biological age using DNAm PhenoAge, several simple blood tests need to be taken, including:

Biological Age Blood TestUnits
Albumin Liverg/L
Creatinine ↓Kidneyumol/L
Glucose, serum ↓Metabolicmmol/L
C-reactive protein ↓Inflammationmg/dL
Lymphocyte percent Immune%
Mean cell volume (MCV) ↓ImmunefL
Red cell distribution width (RDW) ↓Immune%
Alkaline phosphatase ↓LiverU/L
White blood cell count (WBC) ↓Immune1000 cells/uL
AgeYears
Table 1. Phenotypic aging measures

In general, the DNAm PhenoAge biomarker can be determined through inexpensive blood tests, making it accessible to most people. After receiving the test results, online calculators can be used to calculate one’s biological age based on DNAm PhenoAge. This is convenient not only for a one-time calculation but also for monitoring the dynamics of biological age over time.

Below you can see the biomarkers of our user who, over the course of several years, was able to reduce their biological age by 21 years compared to his chronological age with the help of changes in their diet and physical activity.

AlbuminCreatinineGlucosehs C-react ProteinLymphs (Lympocyte, % not absolute)MCV (Mean Cell Volume)RDW (Red Cell Dist Width) or Red Blood Cell Distribution Width (RDW-SD)?Alkaline PhosphataseWBC (White Blood Cells)Age
4960.0004.60.343.29011.8404.249.1
g/Lumol/Lmmol/LLn(mg/L)%fL%U/L10^3 cells/uLyears
Table 2. Lab test results of a 49-year-old man whose biological age is 21 years less than his chronological age.

How to use biological age calculator?

The calculated biological age by Levine’s DNAm PhenoAge is compared to the current chronological age. If the result is lower than your passport age, it is not only good news but also an indicator that your lifestyle positively affects your health. But what if the situation is the opposite? The most important thing is not to get upset! Now you know that you should pay attention to your health, and it makes sense to review your lifestyle. Thanks to the fact that there are several biomarkers, you can see what exactly to focus on. In addition, by making changes to your lifestyle, you can evaluate each individual indicator in addition to your biological age.

To understand whether the dynamics are positive for each indicator, let’s return to Table 1. Each biomarker contains arrows ↓ or ↑. These arrows indicate a positive trend. For example, the downward arrow “↓” next to the glucose level indicates that lower levels of glucose indicate a younger biological age.

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Is it possible to reverse biological aging?

New research shows that we can actually reverse biological aging through diet and lifestyle. In 2021, it was published the results of a pilot randomized clinical trial that demonstrated the ability to reverse biological age and was confirmed by objective outcomes3.

This is a very interesting observation, and there are several factors that can influence biological aging. Our lifestyle, comprising factors such as diet, physical activity, and stress, is considered a crucial element that affects biological age. In an effort to reverse the biological age in humans, researchers utilized a combination of diet, physical activity, and stress resilience techniques. The study monitored a group of individuals who were enrolled in a health program featuring a balanced low-calorie diet, daily 30-minute exercise at 60-80 percent intensity of maximum perceived exertion, and breathing exercises twice a day.

Additionally, the study also focused on the quality of sleep, and it was discovered that insomnia was linked to an increase in DNAmAge clocks. Another study also found a connection between poor sleep quality/less sleep hours and accelerated aging in a small sample of 12 college female students4.

In the end, those who adhered to the recommended health program showed a reduction in age by 9 years, indicating that by maintaining a balanced diet, regular physical activity, and effective stress management, we can improve our overall health and potentially slow down the aging process.

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FURTHER READING
  1. An epigenetic biomarker of aging for lifespan and healthspan
  2. An epigenetic biomarker of aging for lifespan and healthspan
  3. Potential reversal of epigenetic age using a diet and lifestyle intervention: a pilot randomized clinical trial
  4. A pilot prospective study of sleep patterns and DNA methylation-characterized epigenetic aging in young adults

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