Inflammation and Epigenetic Aging Are Largely Independent Markers of Biological Aging and Mortality

Lachlan Cribb, Allison M. Hodge, Chenglong Yu, Sherly X. Li, Dallas R. English, Enes Makalic, Melissa C. Southey, Roger L. Milne, Graham G. Giles, Pierre Antoine Dugué

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8 Citations (Scopus)


Limited evidence exists on the link between inflammation and epigenetic aging. We aimed to (a) assess the cross-sectional and prospective associations of 22 inflammation-related plasma markers and a signature of inflammaging with epigenetic aging and (b) determine whether epigenetic aging and inflammaging are independently associated with mortality. Blood samples from 940 participants in the Melbourne Collaborative Cohort Study collected at baseline (1990-1994) and follow-up (2003-2007) were assayed for DNA methylation and 22 inflammation-related markers, including well-established markers (eg, interleukins and C-reactive protein) and metabolites of the tryptophan-kynurenine pathway. Four measures of epigenetic aging (PhenoAge, GrimAge, DunedinPoAm, and Zhang) and a signature of inflammaging were considered, adjusted for age, and transformed to Z scores. Associations were assessed using linear regression, and mortality hazard ratios (HR) and 95% confidence intervals (95% CI) were estimated using Cox regression. Cross-sectionally, most inflammation-related markers were associated with epigenetic aging measures, although with generally modest effect sizes (regression coefficients per SD ≤ 0.26) and explaining altogether between 1% and 11% of their variation. Prospectively, baseline inflammation-related markers were not, or only weakly, associated with epigenetic aging after 11 years of follow-up. Epigenetic aging and inflammaging were strongly and independently associated with mortality, for example, inflammaging: HR = 1.41, 95% CI = 1.27-1.56, p = 2 × 10-10, which was only slightly attenuated after adjustment for 4 epigenetic aging measures: HR = 1.35, 95% CI = 1.22-1.51, p = 7 × 10-9). Although cross-sectionally associated with epigenetic aging, inflammation-related markers accounted for a modest proportion of its variation. Inflammaging and epigenetic aging are essentially nonoverlapping markers of biological aging and may be used jointly to predict mortality.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2378-2386
Number of pages9
JournalJournals of Gerontology - Series A Biological Sciences and Medical Sciences
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2022


  • Biological aging
  • Epigenetic aging
  • Inflammaging
  • Inflammation
  • Kynurenines

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