An integrative study of five biological clocks in somatic and mental health

Rick Jansen*, Laura K.M. Han, Josine E. Verhoeven, Karolina A. Aberg, Edwin C.G.J. van den Oord, Yuri Milaneschi, Brenda W.J.H. Penninx

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Biological clocks have been developed at different molecular levels and were found to be more advanced in the presence of somatic illness and mental disorders. However, it is unclear whether different biological clocks reflect similar aging processes and determinants. In ~3000 subjects, we examined whether five biological clocks (telomere length, epigenetic, transcriptomic, proteomic, and metabolomic clocks) were interrelated and associated to somatic and mental health determinants. Correlations between biological aging indicators were small (all r < 0.2), indicating little overlap. The most consistent associations of advanced biological aging were found for male sex, higher body mass index (BMI), metabolic syndrome, smoking, and depression. As compared to the individual clocks, a composite index of all five clocks showed most pronounced associations with health determinants. The large effect sizes of the composite index and the low correlation between biological aging indicators suggest that one’s biological age is best reflected by combining aging measures from multiple cellular levels.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere59479
Pages (from-to)1-20
Number of pages20
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2021

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