A recent study has reported that the abundance of several proteins found in the blood could accurately predict lifestyle factors that affect biological aging.
Aging is influenced by various factors such as genetics and lifestyle factors. In a new study published in Scientific Reports, a research team has generated a mathematical model that could predict the chronological age of an individual based on the level of 77 proteins found in the blood plasma. The study showed that factors such as high body mass index (BMI), smoking, and soda consumption affect the abundance of these plasma proteins and increase the predicted age of a person. The researchers have previously identified the plasma proteins in a study to discover biological markers for cancer and cardiovascular disease. Some of the proteins are associated with inflammation and immune function.
The study measured the concentration of the proteins in the blood plasma of a cohort of 976 individuals at 14 to 94 years of age. The study surveyed the lifestyle habits of the participants, consisting of an equal number of males and females living in Sweden. The scientists developed a mathematical model to predict the chronological age of the participants based on their plasma protein profiles.
The model correctly predicted the chronological age of the participants to within 5 years. Lifestyle factors such as high BMI, smoking, and soda consumption increased the predicted age by up to 6 years. Among the participants, soda intake was correlated with higher consumption of foods such as pizza, fries, sweets, and white bread. Participants who consumed fatty fish at least 3 times a week, drank 3 to 6 cups of coffee per day or performed moderate to vigorous daily exercise were predicted to be 4 to 6 years younger than their actual chronological age.
Although the plasma proteins measured in the study may not function directly in the aging process, the abundance of these proteins reflects the biological changes that occur during aging. The plasma protein profiles could be used to help individuals adapt lifestyle changes that could reduce their risk of developing diseases and increase their life expectancy.
Enroth S, Enroth SB, Johansson A, Gyllensten. Protein profiling reveals consequences of lifestyle choices on predicted biological aging. Scientific Reports. Published online 1 December 2015. DOI: 10.1038/srep17282
Written by Ana Victoria Pilar, PhD