Biomarkers as a Measure of Biological Age
Biomarkers of aging are measurable vital signs that change reproducibly, quantitatively and qualitatively, with age. These hallmarks reflect the state of the body, taking into account its physical, genetic, and biochemical parameters (Austad, n.d.). This paper examines several examples of hallmarks of aging, how biomarkers are used, their benefits, challenges associated with them, and promises they hold for aging research and individuals.
Biomarkers can take place at various levels of the organization of a living system. At the body level, scientists have linked the composition of the gut microbiota to aging. A decrease in microbiota diversity, an increase in tryptophan metabolism, and increased immunogenicity occur with aging of the body, accelerate it and aggravate diseases associated with it (Austad, n.d.). Proteins are necessary to protect cells and the body from future damage. Dysfunction of these proteins increases the risk of aging-related diseases. For example, a significant correlation was found between the activity of proteins of the Sirtuin family and the rate of replicative senescence (Austad, n.d.). These are just a few examples of markers of aging.
With increasing life expectancy, the risk of aging-related diseases increases worldwide. Understanding the triggers of aging and the relationship between aging and disease is essential for finding and validating biomarkers of aging and building a system that will drive basic gerontology and clinical research. In addition, biomarkers can be used to create effective geroprotectors (Colloca et al., 2020). Biomarkers of aging have a number of advantages as an aging analysis tool.
Indeed, chronological age is far from always an accurate estimate for the state of the organism and even more so for the rate of aging and the estimated time of death (Colloca et al., 2020). One person at 80 may be in good shape and not have severe cognitive problems, while another at 60 will have stringent health and thinking problems. Thus, the main application of these hallmarks’ studying is to solve the issues associated with aging, including its retardation.
Several problems immediately follow from the criteria and definition, which may arise in the search for biomarkers of aging. The first problem lies in the definition, namely that the parameter should determine the rate of aging in the absence of disease. Aging is often accompanied by age-related diseases, such as diabetes, Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s diseases and so on. Usually, these phenomena lead to no more minor global changes in the body than aging itself, and it becomes difficult to distinguish one from the other (Galkin et al., 2020).
Furthermore, aging is far from a fully understood process, and the scientific community does not fully comprehend its root cause. Thus, not a single biomarker of aging has been found that meets all generally accepted criteria (Galkin et al., 2020). Dozens of such biomarkers have already been discovered, and research in this direction is quite active all over the world.
Nonetheless, biomarkers hold valuable promise for aging research and individual aging. Humanity has practically exhausted the possibilities of increasing life expectancy by traditional medical means. The problem of developing standards and methods of radical impact on the aging process itself is first. Besides, Diagnostic biomarkers of aging have great potential for early diagnosis and prognosis of the development of chronic age-related diseases and monitoring the effectiveness of their prevention and treatment (Galkin et al., 2020). Thus, the study of markers of aging is significant for both science and individuals.
To summarize, in recent years, there has been an increasing focus on research on healthy aging and the rate of aging. Given the complexity and diversity of biological and molecular mechanisms of aging, there is no single biomarker by which one could judge the physiological process of aging. Based on the available data, it becomes clear that in the future, new methods will have to be developed to determine the molecular changes that occur during aging.
Austad, S. (n.d.). What are the Hallmarks of Aging? American Federation for Aging Research. Web.
Colloca, G., di Capua, B., Bellieni, A., Fusco, D., Ciciarello, F., Tagliaferri, L., Valentini, V., & Balducci, L. (2020). Biological and Functional Biomarkers of Aging: Definition, Characteristics, and How They Can Impact Everyday Cancer Treatment. Current Oncology Reports, 22(11). Web.
Galkin, F., Mamoshina, P., Aliper, A., de Magalhães, J. P., Gladyshev, V. N., & Zhavoronkov, A. (2020). Biohorology and biomarkers of aging: current state-of-the-art, challenges, and opportunities.