Researchers at Stanford University were able to reliably predict the ages of the participants in their study by accurately measuring the levels of 373 proteins circulating in their blood. The results of their study showed that Aging occurs in stages, at 34, 60 and 78 years of age
Forget all your previous references! Life would not be divided into childhood, adolescence, adulthood, middle age and old age. Our aging process occurs in three identifiable stages based on the level of proteins circulating in the blood. And those moments when our body would “age” would be at 34, 60 and 78 years of age.
This is the result of a study conducted by researchers at Stanford University School of Medicine and published in early December in the journal Nature Medicine.
What happens at these three ages? The levels of those 373 proteins in blood plasma undergo abrupt changes, up or down.
“We have known for some time that measuring certain proteins in the blood can provide information about a person’s health status, such as lipoproteins for cardiovascular health. But we don’t realize that the levels of so many different proteins – about one-third of those we observe – change markedly with age,” says Tony Wyss-Coray, Professor of Neurology and Neurological Sciences at Stanford’s Center for Alzheimer’s Research.
He says these changes in protein levels that migrate from body tissues into the bloodstream are markers of aging. By measuring the levels of 373 circulating proteins in the blood, we can accurately determine not only a person’s health status, but more importantly, their biological age.
Aging in 3 stages of life
To reach this conclusion, the researchers analyzed the blood plasma of 4,263 people aged between 18 and 95 years of age. The results obtained are edifying, as they suggest that physiological aging does not occur at a regular pace, but rather in stages in three phases of life. And 34, 60 and 78 stand out as key ages in which the number of different blood proteins with significant changes is present in abundance in plasma.
According to scientists, this is because instead of constantly increasing or decreasing or remaining the same throughout life, the levels of many proteins remain constant for a period of time and then, at some point, undergo abrupt changes that tend to cluster at three different points in a person’s life: early adulthood, late middle age and old age.
As a result of this discovery, researchers were able to determine the age of individuals with a margin of error of about three years. In individuals whose predicted age was significantly younger than their actual age, results based on blood protein showed that they were remarkably healthy for their age.
According to the authors of this study, further research would not only help identify people at risk for developing age-related diseases, such as Alzheimer’s or cardiovascular disease, but would also help find therapeutic avenues to slow the aging process. It is even more encouraging, they explain, that you can take a single drop of blood and test for all the 373 proteins.