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An integrative study of five biological clocks in somatic and mental health

By Rick Jansen, Josine Verhoeven, Laura KM Han, Karolina A. Aberg, Edwin CGJ van den Oord, Yuri Milaneschi, Brenda WJH Penninx

Posted 12 Jun 2020
bioRxiv DOI: 10.1101/2020.06.11.146498

Biological clocks have been developed at different molecular levels and were found to be more advanced in the presence of somatic illnesses and mental disorders. However, it is unclear whether different biological clocks reflect similar aging processes and determinants. In ~3000 subjects, we examined whether 5 biological clocks (telomere length, epigenetic, transcriptomic, proteomic and metabolomic clocks) were interrelated and associated to somatic and mental health determinants. Correlations between biological clocks were small (all r<0.2), indicating little overlap. The most consistent associations with the advanced biological clocks were found for male sex, higher BMI, metabolic syndrome, smoking and depression. As compared to the individual clocks, a composite index of all five clocks showed most pronounced associations with health determinants. The large effect sizes of the composite index and the low correlation between biological clocks, indicate that one's biological age is best reflected by combining aging measures from multiple cellular levels.

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