Brain age predicts mortality

J. H. Cole, S J Ritchie, M E Bastin, M C Valdés Hernández, S Muñoz Maniega, N Royle, J Corley, A Pattie, S E Harris, Q Zhang, N R Wray, P Redmond, R E Marioni, J M Starr, S R Cox, J M Wardlaw, D J Sharp, I J Deary

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Abstract

Age-associated disease and disability are placing a growing burden on society. However, ageing does not affect people uniformly. Hence, markers of the underlying biological ageing process are needed to help identify people at increased risk of age-associated physical and cognitive impairments and ultimately, death. Here, we present such a biomarker, 'brain-predicted age', derived using structural neuroimaging. Brain-predicted age was calculated using machine-learning analysis, trained on neuroimaging data from a large healthy reference sample (N=2001), then tested in the Lothian Birth Cohort 1936 (N=669), to determine relationships with age-associated functional measures and mortality. Having a brain-predicted age indicative of an older-appearing brain was associated with: weaker grip strength, poorer lung function, slower walking speed, lower fluid intelligence, higher allostatic load and increased mortality risk. Furthermore, while combining brain-predicted age with grey matter and cerebrospinal fluid volumes (themselves strong predictors) not did improve mortality risk prediction, the combination of brain-predicted age and DNA-methylation-predicted age did. This indicates that neuroimaging and epigenetics measures of ageing can provide complementary data regarding health outcomes. Our study introduces a clinically-relevant neuroimaging ageing biomarker and demonstrates that combining distinct measurements of biological ageing further helps to determine risk of age-related deterioration and death.Molecular Psychiatry advance online publication, 25 April 2017; doi:10.1038/mp.2017.62.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1385–1392
JournalMolecular Psychiatry
Volume23
Early online date25 Apr 2017
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 25 Apr 2017

Keywords

  • Journal Article

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