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Associations of socioeconomic disparities with buccal DNA-methylation measures of biological aging

Referierte Aufsätze Web of Science

Laurel Raffington, Ted Schwaba, Muna Aikins, David Richter, Gert G. Wagner, Kathryn Paige Harden, Daniel W. Belsky, Elliot M. Tucker-Drob

In: Clinical Epigenetics 15 (2023), 1, 70


Individuals who are socioeconomically disadvantaged are at increased risk for aging-related diseases and perform less well on tests of cognitive function. The weathering hypothesis proposes that these disparities in physical and cognitive health arise from an acceleration of biological processes of aging. Theories of how life adversity is biologically embedded identify epigenetic alterations, including DNA methylation (DNAm), as a mechanistic interface between the environment and health. Consistent with the weathering hypothesis and theories of biological embedding, recently developed DNAm algorithms have revealed profiles reflective of more advanced aging and lower cognitive function among socioeconomically-at-risk groups. These DNAm algorithms were developed using blood-DNA, but social and behavioral science research commonly collect saliva or cheek-swab DNA. This discrepancy is a potential barrier to research to elucidate mechanisms through which socioeconomic disadvantage affects aging and cognition. We therefore tested if social gradients observed in blood DNAm measures could be reproduced using buccal-cell DNA obtained from cheek swabs.

Keywords: Aging; DNA methylation; Biological aging; Pace of aging; Cognition; Biomarker; Lifespan; Social determinants of health
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