Social adversity and epigenetic aging: a multi-cohort study on socioeconomic differences in peripheral blood DNA methylation

Publication date: 
November, 2017

Giovanni Fiorito, Silvia Polidoro, Pierre-Antoine Dugué, Mika Kivimaki , Erica Ponzi, Giuseppe Matullo, Simonetta Guarrera, Manuela B. Assumma, Panagiotis Georgiadis, Soterios A. Kyrtopoulos , Vittorio Krogh, Domenico Palli, Salvatore Panico, Carlotta Sacerdote, Rosario Tumino, Marc Chadeau-Hyam , Silvia Stringhini, Gianluca Severi, Allison M. Hodge, Graham G. Giles, Riccardo Marioni, Richard Karlsson Linnér, Aisling M. O’Halloran, Rose A. Kenny, Richard Layte, Laura Baglietto, Oliver Robinson, Cathal McCrory, Roger L. Milne, Paolo Vineis

Low socioeconomic status (SES) is associated with earlier onset of age-related chronic conditions and reduced life-expectancy, but the underlying biomolecular mechanisms remain unclear. Evidence of DNA-methylation differences by SES suggests a possible association of SES with epigenetic age acceleration (AA). We investigated the association of SES with AA in more than 5,000 individuals belonging to three independent prospective cohorts from Italy, Australia, and Ireland. Low SES was associated with greater AA (β = 0.99 years; 95% CI 0.39,1.59; p = 0.002; comparing extreme categories). The results were consistent across di erent SES indicators. The associations were only partially modulated by the unhealthy lifestyle habits of individuals with lower SES. Individuals who experienced life-course SES improvement had intermediate AA compared to extreme SES categories, suggesting reversibility of the e ect and supporting the relative importance of the early childhood social environment. Socioeconomic adversity is associated with accelerated epigenetic aging, implicating biomolecular mechanisms that may link SES to age-related diseases and longevity.

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