Identification of a T cell gene expression clock obtained by exploiting a MZ twin design.

Research paper by Daniel D Remondini, Nathan N Intrator, Claudia C Sala, Michela M Pierini, Paolo P Garagnani, Isabella I Zironi, Claudio C Franceschi, Stefano S Salvioli, Gastone G Castellani

Indexed on: 22 Jul '17Published on: 22 Jul '17Published in: Scientific Reports


Many studies investigated age-related changes in gene expression of different tissues, with scarce agreement due to the high number of affecting factors. Similarly, no consensus has been reached on which genes change expression as a function of age and not because of environment. In this study we analysed gene expression of T lymphocytes from 27 healthy monozygotic twin couples, with ages ranging over whole adult lifespan (22 to 98 years). This unique experimental design allowed us to identify genes involved in normative aging, which expression changes independently from environmental factors. We obtained a transcriptomic signature with 125 genes, from which chronological age can be estimated. This signature has been tested in two datasets of same cell type hybridized over two different platforms, showing a significantly better performance compared to random signatures. Moreover, the same signature was applied on a dataset from a different cell type (human muscle). A lower performance was obtained, indicating the possibility that the signature is T cell-specific. As a whole our results suggest that this approach can be useful to identify age-modulated genes.