Accelerated epigenetic aging as a risk factor for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and decreased lung function in two prospective cohort studies.
- Allergy and Clinical Immunology
Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is a frequent diagnosis in older individuals and contributor to global morbidity and mortality. Given the link between lung disease and aging, we need to understand how molecular indicators of aging relate to lung function and disease. Using data from the population-based KORA (Cooperative Health Research in the Region of Augsburg) surveys, we associated baseline epigenetic (DNA methylation) age acceleration with incident COPD and lung function. Models were adjusted for age, sex, smoking, height, weight, and baseline lung disease as appropriate. Associations were replicated in the Normative Aging Study. Of 770 KORA participants, 131 developed incident COPD over 7 years. Baseline accelerated epigenetic aging was significantly associated with incident COPD. The change in age acceleration (follow-up - baseline) was more strongly associated with COPD than baseline aging alone. The association between the change in age acceleration between baseline and follow-up and incident COPD replicated in the Normative Aging Study. Associations with spirometric lung function parameters were weaker than those with COPD, but a meta-analysis of both cohorts provide suggestive evidence of associations. Accelerated epigenetic aging, both baseline measures and changes over time, may be a risk factor for COPD and reduced lung function.