Study shows plasma ‘clock’ as potential key to aging

Chris Burns - Dec 13, 2019, 1:40pm CST
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Study shows plasma ‘clock’ as potential key to aging

The Plasma Proteomic Clock, as Standford scientists called it, linked distinct points of aging to three specific years in a recent study. In this study, they showed how the human body does not age in a smooth fashion. Based on readings of protein in blood plasma, these scientists were able to predict the chronological age of each test subject – with some significant similarities between those points at which predictions deviated from “true” age.

In the article linked to the right of this paragraph, you’ll see the first part of our exploration of the research released here in December 2019. The study goes by the name “Undulating changes in human plasma proteome profiles across the lifespan” and you’ll find it in Nat Med 25, 1843–1850 (2019) doi:10.1038/s41591-019-0673-2 if you do so wish. That research was authored by Lehallier, B., Gate, D., Schaum, N. et al., and you’ll find a full version at Biorixiv right this minute.

SEE TOO: Stanford scientists link distinct points of aging to three specific years

In that previous article, we took a look at the three ages at which the plasma proteomic clock showed distinct change. Researchers aimed to see whether the plasma proteome could predict chronological age and “serve as a ‘proteomic clock'”. To do this test, they used 2,858 randomly selected subjects “to fine-tune a predictive model that was tested on the remaining 1,473 subjects.” In this study, they tracked a collection of 373 proteins in samples from test subjects.

Those 373 proteins are the key to the Plasma Proteomic Clock. Tracking the amount of each of those proteins in the plasma from the test subjects, researchers were able to predict test subjects’ chronological age with high accuracy (approximately 93-97% accurate, mind you).

At the same time, researchers used the Trail Making Test and a test of physical grip for data points in test subjects’ cognition and physical strength. Per the study, “Remarkably, subjects that were predicted younger than their chronologic age based on their plasma proteome performed better on cognitive and physical tests.”

This same study referred back to the study of plasma transfusion tests in mice from the year 2011. That study was titled “The ageing systemic milieu negatively regulates neurogenesis and cognitive function” and was authored by Villeda, S.A., et al. (Nature 477, 90–94, 2011). That study was expanded upon with an emphasis on the blood-based enzyme called eNAMPT in a more recent study by Shin-ichiro Imai, MD, PhD.

It would seem that when older mice had transplants of younger mouse blood (most recently specifically eNAMPT in the blood), the results are significantly positive for said older mouse. Older mouse test subjects showed “better insulin production, improved eyesight, more energy, and better cognitive performance” as well as longer life than control subjects without noted transfusions.

Per the study’s conclusion, “identifying proteins within plasma that promote or antagonize aging at different stages of life could lead to more targeted therapeutics, as well as preventative therapies.” This research could be a major milestone in the medical world – a point at which we’ll look back and identify as a turning point in our understanding of age and the treatment of human health.

ALSO NOTE: The FDA also caught on to early rumblings of this old/new plasma business and released a warning earlier this year. While there may be great things in the future of plasma-centered studies, it’s important to note that we’re still in the infancy of this research.


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