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Epigenetic age analysis of children who seem to evade aging

  • Author(s): Walker, RF
  • Liu, JS
  • Peters, BA
  • Ritz, BR
  • Wu, T
  • Ophoff, RA
  • Horvath, S
  • et al.
Abstract

© Walker et al. We previously reported the unusual case of a teenage girl stricken with multifocal developmental dysfunctions whose physical development was dramatically delayed resulting in her appearing to be a toddler or at best a preschooler, even unto the occasion of her death at the age of 20 years. Her life-long physician felt that the disorder was unique in the world and that future treatments for age-related diseases might emerge from its study. The objectives of our research were to determine if other such cases exist, and if so, whether aging is actually slowed. Of seven children characterized by dramatically slow developmental rates, five also had associated disorders displayed by the first case. All of the identified subjects were female. To objectively measure the age of blood tissue from these subjects, we used a highly accurate biomarker of aging known as "epigenetic clock" based on DNA methylation levels. No statistically significant differences in chronological and epigenetic ages were detected in any of the newly discovered cases. Our study shows that a) there are multiple children who maintain the façade of persistent toddler-like features while aging from birth to young adulthood and b) blood tissue from these cases is not younger than expected.

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