The ‘ageing clock’ makes use of artificial intelligence to anticipate immunological health and disease development

Aging clock
Recent research reveals the inner workings of a new clock that employs artificial intelligence to predict the onset of age-related disease.
  • Immune-related indicators are used in a novel biological clock to identify patterns and chronic inflammatory disease risk as well as immune system health.
  • The study found a link between the inflammatory clock of ageing (iAge) and total disease, lifespan, and immunological degradation by analysing blood samples from 1,001 people aged 8 to 96 years.
  • Multimorbidity, or the occurrence of several chronic inflammatory diseases, longevity, and immunosenescence, or the age-related degeneration and faulty function of the immune system, are all predicted by the iAge.

Scientists developed the “inflammatory clock of ageing (iAge),” an artificial intelligence programme that can forecast age-related inflammatory disorders and assess the immune system’s general health.

Systemic chronic inflammation has been found to be associated with a wide range of age-related disorders, including heart disease, cancer, and neurological diseases such as dementia. This is due to the increased quantities of chemicals involved in inflammatory processes that accumulate with age, causing long-term harm to the body’s tissues and organs.

The iAge algorithm is based on a comprehensive analysis of several immune system indicators in the blood, as well as the identification of metrics and patterns linked to this chronic inflammatory response.

In comparison to a set of reference values and in proportion to their age in years, an iAge score determines an individual’s age based on immunological health and inflammatory levels. A higher iAge score indicates a higher risk of disease, whereas a lower score indicates a robust immune system.

In a recent publication published in the journal Nature Aging, the researchers discuss the device’s benefits and operation. The study was co-led by Nazish Sayed and Yingxiang Huang of Stanford University’s School of Medicine in California’s Stanford 1000 Immunomes Project.

Edifice Health, the biotechnology company behind the clock, claims to have developed a list of recommended actions, including “specific combinations of nutritional supplements, nutraceuticals, medical foods, prescription drugs, and lifestyle modification” to address and lower an individual’s iAge score.

Values of iAge as a reference

The scientists used data from the Stanford 1000 Immunomes Project, which gathered blood samples from a 9-year longitudinal cohort of 1,001 people ranging in age from 8 to 96 years old, to generate a point of comparison for iAge.

Chronic inflammation, unlike acute inflammation, which is frequently caused by infection and for which scientists have identified specific response-related chemicals, does not have a defined set of biomarkers.

The scientists were able to undertake a deeper examination of the immune system and uncover prospective biomarkers by examining these blood samples and correcting for age, sex, body mass index, and other biological parameters.

What biomarkers does iAge predict, and how accurate is it?

The iAge score connected with numerous metrics of inflammation as determined by levels of current immune system molecules and their associated pathways using a nonlinear comparison method.

Multimorbidity

Multiple chronic inflammatory illnesses are referred to as multimorbidity.

There was a robust link between multimorbidity and iAge. An increase in iAge was linked to an increase in multimorbidity in subjects over 60 years old. The overall amount of specific T cells and B cells, white blood cells that play a role in immunological response, also showed a similar association, according to the researchers.

Longevity

The scientists compared the iAge of a sample of people aged 100 and up to their real age. Only 31% of the 19 individuals had a high iAge score, whereas 68 percent had a low iAge score. In comparison, just 23% of individuals in a control group of older adults had a low iAge score.

Participants above the age of 100 had decreased iAge at a considerably lower rate, implying that “iAge is connected with remarkable longevity.”

Immunosenescence

Immunosenescence is the term used to describe the degeneration and inappropriate function of the immune system that occurs as a result of growing older.

The protein CXCL9, which has been linked to immunosenescence, was found to have the biggest impact on the iAge pattern’s development. CXCL9 is a tiny protein that is involved in the regulation of inflammatory and immunological responses. When measured at the beginning of the study, this protein showed a positive relationship with age, and its levels dramatically increased at the age of 60.

The underlying mechanism by which CXCL9 contributes to immunosenescence may be through the impairment of the normal function of endothelial cells. These cells are found in the lining of blood vessels, and their usual role is to regulate the flow of blood through the veins. Endothelial cells that have been injured, on the other hand, can stimulate inflammatory processes.

In a study of the role of this protein in mice, it was discovered that older animals had damaged endothelium cells that produced higher levels of CXCL9. Atherosclerosis is a disorder caused by damaged cells in the arteries. Others have discovered that the thickening of the heart muscle was caused by the injured endothelial cells, which are precursors to cardiovascular illness in the first place.

Because endothelial cell damage rises with age, the scientists hypothesised, the inflammatory signals that cause cardiovascular disease would grow as well, increasing the risk of heart attack or stroke.

CXCL9 was found to be blocked in the mice, which allowed the researchers to partially restore the endothelial cells’ normal function. This suggests that CXCL9-targeted medicines may have the potential to be used as a prophylactic approach to delay cellular ageing and illness.

Application of the iAge clock

The use of artificial intelligence technology opens the door to the potential of early identification of inflammatory disorders and immune system degeneration. It can assist in the identification of individuals who are at risk of early illness onset and the implementation of preventative actions to improve overall health. As the authors of the research point out in their paper:

We have created an inflammatory clock of ageing by applying artificial intelligence methods to deep immune monitoring of human blood. This can be used as a companion diagnostic to inform physicians about a patient’s inflammatory burden and overall health status, particularly in patients with chronic diseases.

A growing number of ageing clocks that anticipate health concerns based on biological processes are being developed, and the development of iAge adds crucial immune-related insights to the list.

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