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Nat Rev Genet. 2018 Jun;19(6):371-384. doi: 10.1038/s41576-018-0004-3.

DNA methylation-based biomarkers and the epigenetic clock theory of ageing.

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Department of Human Genetics, Gonda Research Center, David Geffen School of Medicine, Los Angeles, CA, USA.
Department of Biostatistics, School of Public Health, University of California-Los Angeles, Los Angeles, CA, USA.
Radiation Effects Department, Centre for Radiation, Chemical and Environmental Hazards, Public Health England, Chilton, Didcot, UK.


Identifying and validating molecular targets of interventions that extend the human health span and lifespan has been difficult, as most clinical biomarkers are not sufficiently representative of the fundamental mechanisms of ageing to serve as their indicators. In a recent breakthrough, biomarkers of ageing based on DNA methylation data have enabled accurate age estimates for any tissue across the entire life course. These 'epigenetic clocks' link developmental and maintenance processes to biological ageing, giving rise to a unified theory of life course. Epigenetic biomarkers may help to address long-standing questions in many fields, including the central question: why do we age?

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