The Intricate Relationship Between Biological Aging and Multiple Sclerosis: Yinan Zhang, MD


The assistant professor of neurology at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center talked about results from an ongoing study assessing biological aging in patients with multiple sclerosis using epigenetic clocks and p16INK4a. [WATCH TIME: 6 minutes]

WATCH TIME: 6 minutes

"Biological age reflects the underlying cellular, molecular, and genetic processes by which an individual ages, providing insights that may help better risk-stratify patients at higher risk for developing secondary progressive MS."

Recent findings indicate an acceleration in biological aging among patients with multiple sclerosis (MS). This correlation between various mechanisms of biological aging and MS is currently being explored in various settings. Epigenetic clock algorithms, rooted in the quantification of DNA methylation patterns, closely align with age-related characteristics and may be used in analysis for biological aging. Another biomarker, p16INK4a, a tumor suppressor activated in response to conditions inducing cellular senescence, exhibits a logarithmic increase with age and may also be used for this purpose.

Findings from an ongoing study showed an increase of epigenetic age acceleration in a subset of patients with secondary progressive MS. These data, compared with other MS subgroups, suggest a potential association between accelerated aging and patients with secondary progressive MS.1 These results were presented at the 2024 Americas Committee for Treatment and Research in Multiple Sclerosis (ACTRIMS) Forum, February 29 to March 2, by lead author Yinan Zhang, MD. The study featured data from 95 participants (relapsing remitting MS, n = 30; secondary progressive MS, n = 29; primary progressive MS, n = 10; controls, n = 27).

Zhang, an assistant professor of neurology at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center, sat down with NeurologyLive® at the meeting to talk about how biological age relates to the progression of MS, and explained the reason why it is important in understanding the disease. He also talked about biomarkers, such as the epigenetic clock and p16INK4a, that are being used to measure biological aging in patients with MS. Additionally, Zhang spoke about the implications of the observed increased epigenetic age in patients with MS, and how it may impact disease outcomes.

Click here for more coverage of ACTRIMS 2024.

1. Zhang Y, Tunyi J, Bhagwat A, et al. Assessment of Biological Aging in People With Multiple Sclerosis Using Epigenetic Clocks and p16INK4a. Presented at ACTRIMS Forum 2024; February 29 to March 2; West Palm Beach, Florida. CE1.4.
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