Some elderly people’s brains appear older than the age on their birth certificates. These people have a higher risk of developing deteriorating age-associated conditions and impairments, and even of experiencing an earlier death than expected.
The researchers first used machine-learning analysis techniques on neuroimaging data from a cohort of 2001 healthy people aged 18-90. This was then compared to the brain scans of 669 older adults who were part of the Lothian Birth Cohort 1936, a longitudinal study conducted in the Edinburgh and Lothians area of Scotland.
The study showed that it is possible to use neuroimaging assessments to establish a 73-year-old’s predicted age, and also to forecast whether that person will be dead by the age of 80. The research group further found that combining brain-predicted age with certain DNA-related epigenetic biomarkers of aging further improves predictions about a person’s probable mortality.
“Our study introduces a clinically relevant neuroimaging aging biomarker and demonstrates that combining distinct measures of biological aging further helps to determine risk of age-related deterioration and death,” Cole says, in summarizing the study’s value. “Such biomarkers could potentially identify those at risk of age-associated health problems years before symptoms appear, and be used as outcome measures in trials of therapeutics aimed at delaying the onset of age-related disease.”
[Read the full study here.]
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