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Epigenetic clocks reveal a rejuvenation event
during embryogenesis followed by aging


Kerepesi et al, Science Advances, 2021

The notion that the germ line does not age goes back to the 19th-century ideas of August Weismann. However, being metabolically active, the germ line accumulates damage and other changes over time, i.e., it ages. For new life to begin in the same young state, the germ line must be rejuvenated in the offspring. Here, we developed a multi-tissue epigenetic clock and applied it, together with other aging clocks, to track changes in biological age during mouse and human prenatal development. This analysis revealed a significant decrease in biological age, i.e., rejuvenation, during early stages of embryogenesis, followed by an increase in later stages. We further found that pluripotent stem cells do not age even after extensive passaging and that the examined epigenetic age dynamics is conserved across species. Overall, this study uncovers a natural rejuvenation event during embryogenesis and suggests that the minimal biological age (ground zero) marks the beginning of organismal aging.

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Last Updated: November 17st, 2021

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