Understanding Epigenetic and Biologic Aging in Multiple Sclerosis

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Donald Negroski, MD, gave an overview of a study that highlighted an accelerated biologic aging clock among patients with pediatric-onset MS.

At the 2024 Consortium of Multiple Sclerosis Centers (CMSC) Annual Meeting, NeurologyLive sat down with MS expert Donald Negroski, MD, to discuss several of the top presentations and data on treatment switches and aging in MS. Negroski provided an overview of various presentations, offering his clinical perspective and how findings may impact care going forward.

In this specific conversation, Negroski provided insight on a unique study that measured epigenetic age in pediatric-onset multiple sclerosis and found that these patients have accelerated biologic aging in comparison with controls. He commented on the significance of this type of study and how research has advanced to the point of measuring biologic aging.

Transcript edited below for clarity.

Donald Negroski, MD: The epigenetic age was measured using serum samples, DNA samples, methylated. When you methylate DNA, you put more molecules on the DNA, and the more molecules you have on the DNA, it [becomes] kind of a marker of aging. The investigators used bank serum from pediatric patients in various pediatric MS centers in the United States and observed the age. They looked at control groups with the same age, and then they looked at patients with relapsing forms of MS in pediatric [settings] and found that the DNA in those patients with MS had more methylated molecules on their DNA. Their actually epigenetic age was actually older, even though they were still pediatric patients, than the control groups. It seems like maybe MS is a risk factor for a kind of aging? So you have the biological age, which is what we're talking about, and then you have the chronological age. Some of those two things don't go hand in hand. Everyone thinks they do, but they don't.

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