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Biomarkers indicate health in old age and the risk of illness
Special biomarkers can be used to estimate health in old age, the susceptibility of older people to diseases and the remaining lifespan. The biomarkers were identified by researchers from the Max Planck Institute for Biology of Aging and the Leiden University Medical Center (LUMC) in a recent joint study.
Up to now, information on health in old age can only be determined by combining numerous different factors, which is difficult to use in everyday clinical practice. Recognizing the susceptibility of older people to diseases based on certain substances in the blood could offer the opportunity to tailor required treatments directly to the state of health of those affected and to be an important step towards individualized medicine. Here the identified biomarkers are a pioneering breakthrough. The results of the current study were published in the specialist journal "Nature Communications".
Blood samples from almost 45,000 individuals were examined
The aging researchers at the Max Planck Institute for Biology of Aging and the Medical Center LUMC have successfully identified a combination of biomarkers in the blood that can be used to estimate the remaining lifespan and the susceptibility of older people to diseases. For this purpose, they used the blood samples from 44,168 individuals and were looking for biomarkers that provide reliable information, the Max Planck Institute reports in a press release on the study results.
Combination of 14 biomarkers identified
After extensive analyzes, the researchers identified a combination of 14 biomarkers, which included various amino acids, the values of LDL and HDL cholesterol, the fatty acid balance and inflammation parameters. In subsequent studies, they were able to show that the prediction accuracy of the 5- and 10-year mortality based on the identified biomarkers is better than that using conventional risk factors for mortality.
Individualized treatment is the goal
"The blood-based measurement should be a first step towards a more individual treatment of older people," emphasizes study leader Eline Slagboom. The goal is to determine the biological age, because the calendar age does not say much about the general health of older people. "A 70-year-old is healthy while another can already suffer from three illnesses," explains the study director. With the biomarkers identified now, however, an instrument will be available in the future to identify vulnerable older people and then be able to treat them accordingly.
Biomarkers can be used in many different ways in studies
The researchers also report that the biomarkers could possibly be used equally for studies in animals and humans. So far, basic research on the molecular causes of aging has generally focused on model organisms such as worms, fruit flies or mice. "Aging research in model organisms is a step ahead of human research (and) in order to use this knowledge, we need instruments with which we can make comparisons between human studies and animal experiments," explains the study director.
Now a number of biomarkers in human blood have been identified that could be used in parallel in clinical studies and in aging research in animals. The markers are also a starting point for parallel studies in model organisms. However, it is currently still being investigated whether the identified biomarkers occur in typical animal models such as mice. (fp)
Author and source information
This text corresponds to the specifications of the medical literature, medical guidelines and current studies and has been checked by medical doctors.
Dipl. Geogr. Fabian Peters
- Max Planck Society: Biomarkers reveal health in old age (published August 20, 2019), mpg.de
- Joris Deelen, Johannes Kettunen, P. Eline Slagboom: A metabolic profile of all-cause mortality risk identified in an observational study of 44,168 individuals; in Nature Communications, Volume 10, Article number: 3346 (2019), nature.com