The role of biological aging in the effect of genetic and environmental factors on health outcomes
Approved Research ID: 61856
Approval date: September 17th 2020
The aim of this study is to examine the role of aging, assessed by using composite aging measures, in the effect of genetic and environmental factors on health outcomes including disease and death using data from UK biobank.
Previous work has provided strong evidence that environmental factors including socioeconomical status, lifestyles, etc. influence risk of various health outcomes (e.g., disease and death) in later life. For example, socioeconomic status is also thought to be a powerful driver of health disparities. In addition to environmental factors, genetic differences contribute to differential vulnerability for disease and death. For example, it has been estimated that about 20-30% of lifespan is genetically determined. In short, both genetic and environmental factors affect health outcomes including disease and death.
One major driver in the pathogenesis of many chronic diseases is thought of as biological aging, a complex multifactorial process characterized by increasing dysregulation and loss of function across multiple levels and systems. Although quantifying aging is challenging, many aging measures have been developed. One of them is composite aging measures based on blood biomarkers. Composite aging measures are meant to capture age-related dysregulation and can facilitate identification of individuals at-risk for many chronic diseases or causes of death. It can also be applied to basic and observational research, providing insights into potential biological mechanisms. However, little is known about the role of biological aging in the effect of genetic and environmental factors on health outcomes, particularly among people in UK.
Public health impact
The findings from this study will highlight the important role of biological aging in keeping healthy. It is possible to stratify population according to their biological aging rate while considering the genetical and environmental influences, and improve the management of health in later life.