Summary: Adults with advanced biological age are at higher risk of depression and anxiety, according to a study that found participants with older biological age were 6% more likely to develop these mental health issues when followed by 8.7 years compared to those who tested biologically younger.
Source: Colombia University
A study just published by the Columbia Mailman School of Public Health and the Peking University School of Public Health provides some of the first large-scale evidence that biological aging processes may contribute to the risk of depression and anxiety.
Almost all of the work to date has focused on poor mental health as a risk factor for accelerated aging. A complementary but less studied hypothesis is that the reverse process may also occur and that accelerated biological aging processes may themselves pose risks for depression/anxiety disorders in the elderly.
The results are published online in Communication Nature.
Researchers tested associations of blood chemistry measures of biological aging with prevalent and incident depression and anxiety in half a million middle-aged and older adults in the UK Biobank, an ongoing study with 502,536 participants recruited in 2006-2010 at the age of 37. 73 years old with several follow-ups.
The results showed that adults with older biological age were more likely to suffer from depression and anxiety at baseline and had a higher risk of depression/anxiety over eight years of follow-up, compared to their peers who had the same chronological age, but who were tested to be biologically younger.
At the 8.7-year follow-up mark, participants with older biological ages had a 6% increased risk of incident depression and anxiety.
“Among older adults who were not depressed/anxious at baseline, those whose blood indicated they were biologically older than their chronological age predicted were more likely to develop depression or anxiety over the course of the year. follow-up than those whose blood indicated they were biologically younger,” said Xu Gao, Ph.D., assistant professor in the Department of Occupational and Environmental Health Sciences, School of Public Health, University of Beijing, China, and first author.
Depression and anxiety are common mental disorders that often coexist and are associated with increased disability and mortality, especially in older people. Preventing depression and anxiety in the elderly therefore has the potential to lessen the burden of disease in an aging population.
“This study helps confirm that identifying risk factors and mechanisms of vulnerability to mental disorders should be a public health priority,” observed Gao, who had been affiliated with Columbia’s Department of Environmental Health Sciences. Mailman School.
The research team had published two previous papers regarding the links between air pollution and biological aging (aging cell 2022) and with mental health (Environmental Health Perspectives 2023), respectively. “These findings complete the logical circle, demonstrating that air pollution can trigger depression/anxiety by accelerating biological aging,” Gao said.
The researchers analyzed data from the UK Biobank for three overlapping groups of participants with whom Gao and corresponding senior author Daniel Belsky, Ph.D., associate professor of epidemiology at the Columbia Mailman School of Public Health, have monitoring to provide information on their lifestyle and health. , and provide biological samples.
The first group included all individuals providing baseline blood chemistry data required for the calculation of biological measures of age and who completed mental health surveys at enrollment (N=424,299) . The second group consisted of the subset of the first group that did not have prevalent depression/anxiety at baseline (N=369,745).
The third group was the subset of individuals who did not have prevalent depression/anxiety at baseline and who also participated in the online mental health follow-up survey, a subset of 124,976 people which have helped to shed light on the prospective associations between initial biological aging and depression syndromes.
People with incident depression/anxiety had a higher incidence of chronic conditions during follow-up compared to those without incident depression/anxiety (for diabetes, 6% versus 3%; for cardiovascular, 12% versus 6%, and for cancer, 11% versus 8%.
The research team notes that while the findings help establish a prospective link linking older biological age to incident depression/anxiety, they do not address the mechanisms mediating this link, which could form at multiple stages. of the progression of aging processes.
“We all age at the same rate in chronological terms. But from a biological perspective, some of us age faster than others, develop chronic diseases and disabilities much earlier, and live shorter, sicker lives,” said Belsky, who is also member of the Butler Columbia Aging Center at Columbia University.
“We now have measurement tools capable of quantifying the differences between chronological age and biological age. In this study, we used two of these measurement tools to investigate the link between aging and mental health.
“The findings suggest future directions for risk assessment of depression/anxiety in older adults as well as the potential for therapies that target the biology of aging to help prevent depression/anxiety later in life. in life.”
About this depression and aging research news
Author: Press office
Source: Colombia University
Contact: Press Office – Columbia University
Picture: Image is in public domain
Original research: Free access.
“Accelerated biological aging and the risk of depression and anxiety: evidence from 424,299 UK biobank participants” by Xu Gao et al. Nature Communication
Accelerated biological aging and risk of depression and anxiety: evidence from 424,299 UK Biobank participants
The theory predicts that the biological processes of aging can contribute to poor mental health in later life. To test this hypothesis, we assessed prospective associations between biological age and incident depression and anxiety in 424,299 UK Biobank participants.
We measured biological age from clinical traits using KDM-BA and PhenoAge algorithms. At baseline, participants who were biologically older suffered more often from depression/anxiety.
During a median of 8.7 years of follow-up, participants with older biological age had an increased risk of incident depression/anxiety (5.9% increase by standard deviation (SD) in KDM- BA, 95% confidence intervals (CI): 3.3%–8.5%; 11.3% increase per SD in PhenoAge acceleration, 95% CI: 9.%–13.0%) .
The risk of depression/anxiety associated with biological aging was independent of and additive to genetic risk measured by polygenic scores based on genome-wide association studies.
Advanced biological aging may represent a potential risk factor for depression/anxiety in middle-aged and older adults and a potential target for risk assessment and intervention.