Study: Stress increases biological age but worry not, it may be reversed

According to a new study, biological aging is neither static nor always increasing and may be reversible.
Tejasri Gururaj
Can aging be reversed .jpg
Can aging be reversed


Biological aging is a process that causes a gradual decline in physiological functions. It has traditionally been assumed to include increased damage and loss of function to various organs and systems, leading to an increase in mortality. However, our understanding of biological aging is being called into question.

According to a new study, the biological age in mice and humans rapidly increases when exposed to various forms of stress. The study published in Cell Metabolism also hints at the possibility of age reversal once recovered. This new link between stress and biological aging can have significant ramifications for treatments in the future.

Biological vs. chronological age 

Biological age refers to a person's age as determined by their physical and physiological state, including factors such as changes in gene expression patterns and the accumulation of damage to cells and tissues. Biological age is affected by many factors, such as diseases, lifestyle, and environment.

Chronological age, on the other hand, is simply an individual's age as measured by the passage of time since their birth. There is no connection between the biological and chronological age of the person. A person's biological age may be more or less than their chronological age.

Very little is known about the malleability and reversibility of biological age. A team led by James White of Duke University School of Medicine and Vadim Gladyshev of Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Harvard Medical School, set out to uncover more about the extent to which biological age is reversible.

Stress directly impacts biological age

The team used DNA methylation clocks, which are epigenetic biomarkers that measure changes in methylation patterns in our DNA, which happen throughout our chronological aging. Humans and mice were then subjected to a variety of stress stimuli.

The researchers found that biological age increased during brief periods of stress. However, they noted that this change was temporary and reverted after recovery. The researchers also observed a transient change in biological age during pregnancy, COVID-19, and major surgery in both mice and humans, which also reversed after recovery.

The reversibility of biological age is an exciting discovery that opens the door to a plethora of interesting and beneficial therapies. The authors suggest that this observation can be used to predict anti-aging interventions. This is an important revelation since stress is a prevalent issue in our society, whether it is related to work, school, or social life. As a result, recovering from stress plays a significant role in prolonging one's life.

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