Biomarkers of aging and lung function in the normative aging study

Cuicui Wang, Allan Just, Jonathan Heiss, Brent A. Coull, Lifang Hou, Yinan Zheng, David Sparrow, Pantel S. Vokonas, Andrea Baccarelli, Joel Schwartz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


Elderly individuals who are never smokers but have the same height and chronological age can have substantial differences in lung function. The underlying biological mechanisms are unclear. To evaluate the associations of different biomarkers of aging (BoA) and lung function, we performed a repeated-measures analysis in the Normative Aging Study using linear mixed-effect models. We generated GrimAgeAccel, PhenoAgeAccel, extrinsic and intrinsic epigenetic age acceleration using a publically available online calculator. We calculated Zhang's DNAmRiskScore based on 10 CpGs. We measured telomere length (TL) and mitochondrial DNA copy number (mtDNA-CN) using quantitative real-time polymerase chain reaction. A pulmonary function test was performed measuring forced expiratory volume in 1 second / forced vital capacity (FEV1/FVC), FEV1, and maximum mid-expiratory flow (MMEF). Epigenetic-based BoA were associated with lower lung function. For example, a one-year increase in GrimAgeAccel was associated with a 13.64 mL [95% confidence interval (CI), 5.11 to 22.16] decline in FEV1; a 0.2 increase in Zhang's DNAmRiskScore was associated with a 0.009 L/s (0.005 to 0.013) reduction in MMEF. No association was found between TL/mtDNA-CN and lung function. Overall, this paper shows that epigenetics might be a potential mechanism underlying pulmonary dysfunction in the elderly.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)11942-11966
Number of pages25
Issue number12
StatePublished - 30 Jun 2020


  • Biological clock
  • DNA methylation
  • Pulmonary health


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