Posted on Jan 23, 2020, 3 p.m.
People age at different rates and in different ways; some may live longer than others, some may suffer from ill health their entire lives while others are never sick a day, and some may remain limber and active their whole lives while others start to experience mobility issues at early ages.
A recent study conducted at the Standford University of Medicine has discovered at least four new ageotypes, which is defined as being the part of the body where the aging process was most active; those in the study tended to age most within the liver, kidney, immune system, or at a metabolic level.
According to Professor Michael Snyder, PhD, “The ageotype is more than a label; it can help individuals zero-in on health-risk factors and find the areas in which they’re most likely to encounter problems down the line. Most importantly, our study shows that it’s possible to change the way you age for the better. We’re starting to understand how that happens with behaviour, but we’ll need more participants and more measurements over time to fully flesh it out.”
Blood and biological samples were taken from 106 healthy participants between the ages of 29-75 to investigate at deep molecular levels; this was carried out at least 5 times over a period of two years to record and changes. Preliminary results suggest that it is possible to slow down the rate of aging with healthy lifestyle changes. Findings from deep longitudinal profiling highlights the importance of development of personalized advice on making healthy lifestyle changes and treatment customized to the individual based on their ageotype.
“The differences in aging between healthy and insulin-resistant folks is something that’s never been looked at before,” Snyder said. “Overall, we found there were about 10 molecules that significantly differed between insulin-sensitive and insulin-resistant folks as they aged. Many of those markers were involved in immune function and inflammation.”
Not everyone in the study showed an increase in ageotype markers over time: Some experienced their markers decrease at least for a short period when they changed their behavior; they still aged but the overall rate at which they did declined, and in some cases the aging markers decreased. The decreasing phenomenon among a small subset of participants who made healthy lifestyle changes occurred in important molecules including hemoglobin A1c and creatine which are a marker for kidney function. “The ageotype signifies the pathways in which increases in aging biomarkers are most pronounced.”
According to the study an individual goes through aging in 4 ways: 1) Metabolic – related to the buildup and breakdown of substances in the body, 2) Immune – Relating to immune responses. 3) Hepatic – Relating to liver function, and 4) Nephrotic – Relating to kidney function, although they note this does not mean that we are not aging through other biological pathways.
“Our study captures a much more comprehensive view of how we age by studying a broad range of molecules and taking multiple samples across the years from each participant. We’re able to see clear patterns of how individuals experience ageing on a molecular level, and there’s quite a bit of difference.”
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This article is not intended to provide medical diagnosis, advice, treatment, or endorsement.