Mitochondria and aging in older individuals: an analysis of DNA methylation age metrics, leukocyte telomere length, and mitochondrial DNA copy number in the VA normative aging study

Dolcini J., Wu H., Nwanaji-Enwerem J. C., Kiomourtozlogu M., Cayir A., Sanchez-Guerra M., ...More

AGING-US, vol.12, no.3, pp.2070-2083, 2020 (SCI-Expanded) identifier identifier identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 12 Issue: 3
  • Publication Date: 2020
  • Doi Number: 10.18632/aging.102722
  • Journal Name: AGING-US
  • Journal Indexes: Science Citation Index Expanded (SCI-EXPANDED), Scopus, BIOSIS, EMBASE, MEDLINE
  • Page Numbers: pp.2070-2083
  • Çanakkale Onsekiz Mart University Affiliated: Yes


Population aging is a looming global health challenge. New biological aging metrics based on DNA methylation levels have been developed in addition to traditional aging biomarkers. The prospective relationships of aging biomarkers with mitochondrial changes are still not well understood. Here, we examined the prospective associations of mitochondrial copy number (mtDNAcn) with several aging biomarkers - DNAm-Age, DNAm-PhenoAge, DNAm-GrimAge, and leukocyte telomere length. We analyzed 812 individuals from Veteran Affairs Normative Aging Study (NAS) with available blood samples from 1999-2013. Whole blood mtDNAcn and relative leukocyte telomere length were measured via qPCR. DNA methylation was assessed and used to calculate DNAm-Age, DNAm-GrimAge, and DNAm-PhenoAge. Linear mixed models were used to quantify the associations of mtDNAcn with DNAm-Age, DNAm-GrimAge, DNAm-PhenoAge, and leukocyte telomere length. In multivariable cross-sectional analyses, mtDNAcn is negatively associated with DNAm-Age PhenoAge and DNAm-PhenoAge. In contrast, mtDNAcn is associated with prospective measures of higher DNAm-PhenoAge and shorter leukocyte telomere length. Our study shows that higher mtDNAcn is associated with prospective measures of greater DNAm-PhenoAge and shorter leukocyte telomere length independent of chronological age. This indicates a role for mitochondrial in aging-related disease and mortality, but not the departure of biological age from chronological age.