Do Epigenetic Clocks Provide Explanations for Sex Differences in Life Span? : A Cross-Sectional Twin Study
Kankaanpää, A., Tolvanen, A., Saikkonen, P., Heikkinen, A., Laakkonen, E. K., Kaprio, J., Ollikainen, M., & Sillanpää, E. (2022). Do Epigenetic Clocks Provide Explanations for Sex Differences in Life Span? : A Cross-Sectional Twin Study. Journals of Gerontology Series A : Biological Sciences and Medical Sciences, 77(9), 1898-1906. https://doi.org/10.1093/gerona/glab337
© The Author(s) 2021. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of The Gerontological Society of America
Background The sex gap in life expectancy has been narrowing in Finland over the past four to five decades; however, on average, women still live longer than men. Epigenetic clocks are markers for biological aging that predict lifespan. In this study, we examined the mediating role of lifestyle factors on the association between sex and biological aging in younger and older adults. Methods Our sample consists of younger and older twins (21‒42-y, n = 1477; 50‒76-y, n = 763) including 151 complete younger opposite-sex twin pairs (21‒30-y). Blood-based DNA methylation (DNAm) was used to compute epigenetic age acceleration by four epigenetic clocks as a measure of biological aging. Path modelling was used to study whether the association between sex and biological aging is mediated through lifestyle-related factors, i.e. education, body mass index, smoking, alcohol use, and physical activity. Results In comparison to women, men were biologically older and, in general, they had unhealthier life habits. The effect of sex on biological aging was partly mediated by body mass index and, in older twins, by smoking. Sex was directly associated with biological aging and the association was stronger in older twins. Conclusions Previously reported sex differences in lifespan are also evident in biological aging. Declining smoking prevalence among men is a plausible explanation for the narrowing of the difference in life expectancy between the sexes. Data generated by the epigenetic clocks may help in estimating the effects of lifestyle and environmental factors on aging and in predicting aging in future generations. ...
PublisherOxford University Press (OUP)
ISSN Search the Publication Forum1079-5006
Publication in research information system
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Related funder(s)Juho Vainio Foundation
Additional information about fundingThis work was supported by the Academy of Finland (213506, 265240, 263278, 312073 to JK, and 297908 to MO), EC FP5 GenomEUtwin (JK), National Institutes of Health/National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (grant HL104125), EC MC ITN Project EPITRAIN (JK and MO), the University of Helsinki Research Funds (MO), Sigrid Juselius Foundation (JK and MO), Yrjö Jahnsson Foundation (6868), and Juho Vainio Foundation (ES) ...
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