The new tool measures the degree of chronic inflammation in the human body to determine its immunological age.
Researchers at the Buck Institute and Stanford University, as part of the 1000 Immunomes project, studied blood samples from 1001 people between the ages of eight and 96 years. The aim of the project is to find out how the signs of chronic systemic inflammation change with age.
A new tool called iAge uses artificial intelligence (AI), namely a deep neural network, to analyze blood-borne markers of inflammation. These markers include proteins called cytokines that carry messages between immune cells and other cells in the body. Using blood samples from 1001 people between the ages of 8 and 96, the team identified patterns between these circulating inflammatory markers and various age-related diseases.
Among the 50 cytokines studied, the group noted several that influenced the human iAge score the most. In particular, the cytokine CXCL9 stood out. The substance usually directs immune cells to the site of infection. But among study participants, CXCL9 levels began to rise rapidly, on average by about age 60. In subsequent experiments with cells in laboratory dishes, the team linked this age-related spike in cytokines to functional problems in endothelial cells, a major component of blood vessel walls.
The study was conducted in the United States since the 48th year of the last century. The group included 97 extremely healthy people between the ages of 25 and 90 from California, as well as centenarians from Bologna in Italy.
Average? centenarians have an immune age about 40 years younger than what is considered normal. Scientists have identified a single case of a superhealthy 105-year-old Italian with an immune system similar to that of a 25-year-old.
According to the authors of the work, on the basis of the system they have developed, it will be possible to create a new method for identifying the risks of developing age-related diseases that are associated with a decrease in immunity.
However, until scientists better understand the main triggers that cause age-related inflammation, it will be difficult to develop drugs that target inflammation without harming the overall immune system.