A person with wrinkles and gray hair may be healthier than someone in their 40s with jet black hair and a smooth face. An individual’s physical attributes don’t necessarily indicate his “biological age.”
Chinese scientists believe a chemical in urine can reveal information about a person’s biological age. This indicates how fast he or she is aging rather than his or her chronological age.
“Chronological age, which is simply calculated according to birth date, is an imprecise measure of biological aging,” the researchers note. “The disconnection between chronological age and lifespan has led to a search for effective and validated biomarkers of aging.”
The research was published in the journal Frontiers in Aging Neuroscience. The chemical is called 8-oxo-7,8-dihydroguanosine, or 8-oxoGsn for short. 8-oxoGsn is created when the molecule RNA is damaged or breaks down. RNA interacts with DNA to create proteins in the core of most cells, reports LiveScience.
According to lead study author, Dr. Jian-Ping Cai of the MOH Key Laboratory of Geriatrics at Beijing Hospital and the National Center of Gerontology in Beijing, something that measures the deterioration of RNA can also measure aging.
People age differently due to genetics and environment. Identifying a biomarker to measure the rate of aging would be a huge boon for geriatric medicine. Being able to identify someone’s age at the cellular level would help indicate a person’s risk of developing arthritis, heart disease, Alzheimer’s disease, and other age-related problems.
The researchers examined 1,200 Chinese males and females between the ages of two and 90. They found an increase in urinary 8-oxoGsn in participants 20 years and older.
The team plans on carrying out a larger study to validate their findings. If 8-oxoGsn is found to be an accurate indicator of the rate of aging, it could be used in research to evaluate methods to slow aging.