Catalyst Awardee

Project Description

Studying Epigenetic Ageing and Telomere Length as Possible Biological Predictors for Healthy Ageing - The Singapore Chinese Health Study

Rajkumar Dorajoo, PhD | Genome Institute of Singapore; Brian Kennedy, PhD | National University of Singapore; Heng Chew Kiat, PhD | National University of Singapore; Liu Jianjun, PhD, MS | Genome Institute of Singapore; and Woon-Puay Koh, MBBS (Hons), PhD, FAMS | Duke-NUS Medical School
Competition Sponsor: Ministry of Health and National Research Foundation of Singapore
Awardee Year: 2020

We recently showed that telomere length is associated with age, chronic diseases and various mortalities and have highlighted on important ethnic specific genetic loci that control telomere attrition in the Singapore Chinese population. How much telomere length correlates with other ageing biomarkers and whether these interact to affect predictions of future health outcomes is unknown in the Chinese population. We hypothesize that ageing molecular biomarkers are not completely independent but may interactively coalesce to affect ageing outcomes. In this initial proof-of-concept study, we aim at studying two well-characterized ageing molecular biomarkers, telomere length and epigenetic ageing, to determine their associations and correlations with each other (Aim 1) and evaluate if jointly modelling these two biomarkers could improve associations and predictions of prospective health outcomes in the Singapore Chinese population (Aim 2). The Singapore Chinese Health Study (SCHS) has recently characterised the prospective collection as healthy ageing (N=2,834, 20.02% of the sample collection, mean age = 73) defined as the absence of specific chronic diseases, no impairment of cognitive function, no limitations in instrumental activities of daily living, good mental health and overall self-perceived health, good physical functioning and no function-limiting pain after a median 20-year follow-up. For this initial proof-of-concept study we would leverage on the SCHS data to select 100 cases and 100 controls based on pre-defined healthy ageing status and determine epigenetic ageing at baseline (mean age = 53). Readily available telomere length information at baseline from the same study samples will enable understandings on correlation and association patterns of these ageing molecular markers and allow for an initial evaluation on the joint utility of these molecular markers, determined during midlife, to predict prospective healthy ageing status in the Chinese population.

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