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Front. Genet. | doi: 10.3389/fgene.2019.00263

Examination of the Dimensions of Biological Age

  • 1Department of Medicine, Tulane University, United States
  • 2Department of Medicine, School of Medicine, Tulane University, United States

The concept of biological age has been used more and more frequently in aging research in attempts to measure the progress of the biological aging process as opposed to the simple passage of time. Several approaches to quantify biological age have been utilized, including the use of biomarkers in the form of serum analytes, epigenetic markers, and deficit or frailty indices. Among these methods, the deficit index possesses a theoretical basis grounded in systems biology by incorporating networks, with their emergent properties, to describe the complex aging system. Application of the deficit index in human aging studies points to the increased energetic demands posed by an aging system that is losing integration. Different aspects of mitochondrial function appear to be responsible in males and females. The gut microbiome loses complexity in tandem with the host, as biological age increases, with likely impact on host metabolism and immunity. Specific DNA methylation changes are associated with biological age. They suggest declining connectivity within the aging network, at the cellular level. The deficit/frailty index may account for at least part of the departure at older ages of the observed mortality in the population from the exponential increase modeled by the Gompertz equation.

Keywords: Deficit index, Frailty Index, biological age, Complexity, network, gut microbiome, DNA Methylation, Survival, healthy aging

Received: 03 Jan 2019; Accepted: 08 Mar 2019.

Edited by:

Alexey Moskalev, Institute of Biology, Komi Scientific Center (RAS), Russia

Reviewed by:

Gil Atzmon, University of Haifa, Israel
George A. Garinis, Foundation for Research and Technology Hellas, Greece  

Copyright: © 2019 Jazwinski and Kim. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.

* Correspondence: Dr. S. Michal Jazwinski, Tulane University, Department of Medicine, New Orleans, 70112, Louisiana, United States, sjazwins@tulane.edu