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Sci Rep. 2017 Nov 24;7(1):16266. doi: 10.1038/s41598-017-16391-5.

Social adversity and epigenetic aging: a multi-cohort study on socioeconomic differences in peripheral blood DNA methylation.

Author information

1
Italian Institute for Genomic Medicine (IIGM, former HuGeF), Via Nizza 52 -, 10126, Turin, Italy.
2
Department of Medical Sciences - University of Turin, C.So, Dogliotti, 14 - 10126, Italy.
3
Cancer Epidemiology & Intelligence Division, Cancer Council of Victoria, 615 St Kilda Road, Melbourne, Victoria, 3004, Australia.
4
Centre for Epidemiology and Biostatistics, Melbourne School of Population and Global Health, The University of Melbourne, Parkville Victoria, 3010, Australia.
5
Department of Epidemiology and Public Health - University College London, 1-19 Torrington Place, London, WC1E 6BT, United Kingdom.
6
Institute of Evolutionary Biology and Environmental Studies, University of Zürich, Winterthurerstrasse 190, Zürich, Switzerland.
7
Institute of Biology, Medicinal Chemistry, and Biotechnology, National Hellenic Research Foundation, Leof. Vasileos Konstantinou 48, Athens, 116 35, Greece.
8
Fondazione IRCCS - Istituto Nazionale dei Tumori, Via Venezian 1, 20133, Milan, Italy.
9
Istituto per lo Studio e la Prevenzione Oncologica (ISPO Toscana), Via Cosimo Il Vecchio, 2, 50139, Florence, Italy.
10
Department of Clinical Medicine and Surgery, University of Naples Federico II, Corso Umberto I, 40, 80138, Naples, Italy.
11
Piedmont Reference Centre for Epidemiology and Cancer Prevention (CPO Piemonte), Via Santena 7, 10126, Turin, Italy.
12
Cancer Registry and Histopathology Department, 'Civic - M. P. Arezzo' Hospital, ASP Ragusa, Piazza Igea, 1, 97100, Ragusa, Italy.
13
MRC-PHE Centre for Environment and Health, Imperial College London, St. Mary's Campus Paddington, W2 1PG, London, United Kingdom.
14
Institute of Social and Preventive Medicine Lausanne University Hospital (CHUV), Rue du Bugnon 46, 1011, Lausanne, Switzerland.
15
Inserm U1018, Center for Research in Epidemiology and Population Health (CESP), Gustave Roussy Institute, 114 rue Edouard Vaillant, 94805, Villejuif Cedex, France.
16
Centre for Genomic and Experimental Medicine - University of Edinburgh, Crewe Road, EH4 2XU, Edinburgh, United Kingdom.
17
Department of Complex Trait Genetics, Center for Neurogenomics and Cognitive Research (CNCR), Neuroscience Campus Amsterdam (NCA), VU University Amsterdam, De Boelelaan, 1085-1087 1081 HV, Amsterdam, The Netherlands.
18
Trinity College Dublin, Dublin, Ireland, UK.
19
Department of Clinical and Experimental Medicine, University of Pisa, Lungarno Antonio Pacinotti, 43, 56126, Pisa, Italy.
20
Italian Institute for Genomic Medicine (IIGM, former HuGeF), Via Nizza 52 -, 10126, Turin, Italy. p.vineis@imperial.ac.uk.
21
MRC-PHE Centre for Environment and Health, Imperial College London, St. Mary's Campus Paddington, W2 1PG, London, United Kingdom. p.vineis@imperial.ac.uk.

Abstract

Low socioeconomic status (SES) is associated with earlier onset of age-related chronic conditions and reduced life-expectancy, but the underlying biomolecular mechanisms remain unclear. Evidence of DNA-methylation differences by SES suggests a possible association of SES with epigenetic age acceleration (AA). We investigated the association of SES with AA in more than 5,000 individuals belonging to three independent prospective cohorts from Italy, Australia, and Ireland. Low SES was associated with greater AA (β = 0.99 years; 95% CI 0.39,1.59; p = 0.002; comparing extreme categories). The results were consistent across different SES indicators. The associations were only partially modulated by the unhealthy lifestyle habits of individuals with lower SES. Individuals who experienced life-course SES improvement had intermediate AA compared to extreme SES categories, suggesting reversibility of the effect and supporting the relative importance of the early childhood social environment. Socioeconomic adversity is associated with accelerated epigenetic aging, implicating biomolecular mechanisms that may link SES to age-related diseases and longevity.

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