Blood levels of proteins reflect the starting, stopping, and changing of biological processes linked to aging. We make significant changes at three ages.
“The wiser mind mourns less for what age takes away than what it leaves behind.”
This is the insightful observation of William Wordsworth (1770–1850), the English romantic who (along with Samuel Taylor Coleridge) helped initiate the Romantic Age in English literature. Together, they published Lyrical Ballads in 1798.
Today is not a day for literature. Instead, I want to share with you the remarkable findings of researchers from Stanford University. They looked at almost 3,000 proteins in the blood of 4,263 subjects ages 18 to 95. Here’s what they discovered:
- 1,379 proteins changed with an individual’s age
- Using information from only 373 proteins, the researchers could predict a subject’s age with great accuracy. Using just nine proteins allowed for a reasonably good prediction.
Proteins help to carry out instructions from the cells of your body. When blood levels of proteins change, biological processes change. The Staford scientists found the changes in the protein levels can be remarkably rapid: The protein levels remain stable for years, then suddenly drop or rise.
The aforementioned rapid changes in protein levels occur in a seemingly coordinated fashion. There are significant changes in several proteins at ages 34, 60, and 78 years old.
Also, there are differences by sex. Of the 1,379 proteins that meaningfully change their levels with age, 895 of them are much more age-predictive for one sex than the other; the aging process differs between males and females.
Perhaps not surprisingly, some individuals appeared biologically younger than their actual age. Such individuals included some very old Ashkenazi Jewish individuals (who tended to be in usually good health), ones with stronger handgrips, and objectively better cognition than their biologically older counterparts.
And naturally enough, there were outliers — study participants for whom the blood protein levels predicted much younger ages than the actual case. And these people, including several famously long-lived Ashkenazi Jews, tended to show excellent health, stronger handgrips, and better-measured cognition than folks with older-looking blood.
It appears we change biologically at the ages of 34, 60, and 78 years. To be honest, I don’t understand why these ages may be significant and don’t know that there is any actionable for you or me, based on these findings. I can imagine medicines that re-program this protein symphony, trying to alter the aging process. Thank you for joining me today.
The Wiser Mind | Coping with Stress and Aging | VistaLynk
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