Exploring domains, clinical implications and environmental associations of a deep learning marker of biological ageing

On behalf of the Moli-sani Study Investigators

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Deep Neural Networks (DNN) have been recently developed for the estimation of Biological Age (BA), the hypothetical underlying age of an organism, which can differ from its chronological age (CA). Although promising, these population-specific algorithms warrant further characterization and validation, since their biological, clinical and environmental correlates remain largely unexplored. Here, an accurate DNN was trained to compute BA based on 36 circulating biomarkers in an Italian population (N = 23,858; age ≥ 35 years; 51.7% women). This estimate was heavily influenced by markers of metabolic, heart, kidney and liver function. The resulting Δage (BA–CA) significantly predicted mortality and hospitalization risk for all and specific causes. Slowed biological aging (Δage < 0) was associated with higher physical and mental wellbeing, healthy lifestyles (e.g. adherence to Mediterranean diet) and higher socioeconomic status (educational attainment, household income and occupational status), while accelerated aging (Δage > 0) was associated with smoking and obesity. Together, lifestyles and socioeconomic variables explained ~48% of the total variance in Δage, potentially suggesting the existence of a genetic basis. These findings validate blood-based biological aging as a marker of public health in adult Italians and provide a robust body of knowledge on its biological architecture, clinical implications and potential environmental influences.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalEuropean Journal of Epidemiology
StateAccepted/In press - 2021


  • Biological ageing
  • Blood markers
  • Deep neural networks
  • Hospitalizations
  • Lifestyles
  • Mortality
  • Quality of life
  • Socioeconomic status

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Epidemiology


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