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Aging and disease
Orginal Article |
DeepMAge: A Methylation Aging Clock Developed with Deep Learning
Fedor Galkin1,2, Polina Mamoshina1, Kirill Kochetov1, Denis Sidorenko3, Alex Zhavoronkov1,3,4,*
1Deep Longevity Limited, Hong Kong.
2Integrative Genomics of Ageing Group, Institute of Ageing and Chronic Disease, University of Liverpool, Liverpool, UK.
3Insilico Medicine Hong Kong Limited, Hong Kong Science and Technology Park, Hong Kong.
4Buck Institute for Research on Aging, Novato, CA, USA.
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DNA methylation aging clocks have become an invaluable tool in biogerontology research since their inception in 2013. Today, a variety of machine learning approaches have been tested for the purpose of predicting human age based on molecular-level features. Among these, deep learning, or neural networks, is an especially promising approach that has been used to construct accurate clocks using blood biochemistry, transcriptomics, and microbiomics data—feats unachieved by other algorithms. In this article, we explore how deep learning performs in a DNA methylation setting and compare it to the current industry standard—the 353 CpG clock published in 2013. The aging clock we are presenting (DeepMAge) is a neural network regressor trained on 4,930 blood DNA methylation profiles from 17 studies. Its absolute median error was 2.77 years in an independent verification set of 1,293 samples from 15 studies. DeepMAge shows biological relevance by assigning a higher predicted age to people with various health-related conditions, such as ovarian cancer, irritable bowel diseases, and multiple sclerosis.

Keywords aging      DNA methylation      epigenetics      artificial intelligence     
Corresponding Authors: Alex Zhavoronkov   
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These authors contributed equally to this work.

Just Accepted Date: 04 December 2020  
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Fedor Galkin
Polina Mamoshina
Kirill Kochetov
Denis Sidorenko
Alex Zhavoronkov
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Fedor Galkin,Polina Mamoshina,Kirill Kochetov, et al. DeepMAge: A Methylation Aging Clock Developed with Deep Learning[J]. Aging and disease, 10.14336/AD.2020.1202
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CVHealthy verificationCase trainingCase verification
MedAE, years2.242.773.294.18
MAE, years3.213.804.745.08
Pearson’s r0.980.970.940.94
RMSE, years4.555.447.516.24
Table 1  Accuracy metrics for DeepMAge. The accuracy achieved in cross-validation (CV column, MedAE = 2.24 years) was only slightly reduced during verification (healthy verification column, MedAE = 2.77 years). Accuracy declined in the samples with various health-related conditions (case verification column, MedAE = 4.35 years).
Figure 1.  Scatter plot of DeepMAge predictions in 4 data cohorts”. DeepMAge accurately predicted the chronological age of healthy people from the training set (A), healthy people from the verification set (B), and remained accurate in the aggregations of case cohorts from the studies included in the training set (C) and the verification set (D). Scatter plot in panel A shows the per-fold predictions obtained during CV, and the other panels show the predictions by the final model. MedAE = Median absolute error measured in years, N = Number of samples in a corresponding cohort (see Supplementary Figures 1-3 for a more detailed visualization).
SetError, yearsAbsolute Error, yearsN
Female+0.65+0.41*-0.54 *-2.17*-0.34*+2.76+3.59+3.77+4.58+3.592058
Table 2  DeepMAge prediction errors are not significantly different for younger males and females. Sex-related differences in age prediction for older adults are inconsistent between the CV and the verification sets.
Figure 2.  The DeepMAge prediction age distribution in the verification set closely resembled the real age distribution. Distributions were obtained using Gaussian kernel with 0.3σ bandwidth, where σ is the standard deviation of the age values.
GEO IDMean error in controlMean error in casesp-value (MW)p-value (random MW)N controlN caseN totalDeepMAge sampleCase cohort description
GSE53740*-0.37+0.632.70E-21.50E-1197186383TrainingNeurodegenerative tauopathy
GSE19711*-2.97-1.279.84E-64.39E-1272264536TrainingOvarian cancer
GSE106648*-1.84+0.262.17E-82.52E-1139140279TrainingMultiple sclerosis
GSE67530-2.66-1.631.12E-11.01E-110539144TrainingAcute respiratory distress syndrome
GSE525880.671.191.71E-14.84E-1582987TrainingDown syndrome
GSE97362*1.24-4.042.05E-39.30E-283150233TrainingCHARGE / Kabuki syndrome
GSE846240.540.734.39E-19.87E-2242448TrainingKawasaki disease
GSE1126964.244.563.44E-11.89E-16612VerificationMyasthenia gravis
GSE1021771.991.914.94E-12.38E-1181836VerificationMaternal gestational diabetes
GSE87640*- bowel diseases
Table 3  Five diseases (including ovarian cancer and multiple sclerosis) were associated with significantly higher age predictions (p-value (MW) < 0.05).
Figure 3.  DeepMAge, but not the 353 CpG clock, predicted donors with IBD (GEO study accession GSE87640) to be on average 1.23 years older than the healthy donors from the same study (p-value = 1.24E­3). Outliers outside the (-20; +20) prediction error window were removed from the image; The box is formed by the interquartile range with the median marked inside it. Whiskers protrude no farther than 1.5 times the interquartile range. GEO = Gene Expression Omnibus; IBD = Inflammatory bowel disease; N= Number of samples in a corresponding cohort.
Figure 4.  The DeepMAge clock shares 122 CpGs with the 353 CpG clock and seven CpGs with the 71 CpG clock. The latter two were published in 2013.
GEO IDMedAE, yearsPearson’s rNAge range, yearsMale ratio, %
DeepMAge353 CpGDeepMAge353 CpG
GSE107459 **1.633.430.790.6812718-350
GSE102177 *1.871.330.860.83184-1456
GSE34639 *1.920.220.890.88480-133
GSE105123 **2.062.870.470.3810719-2358
GSE61496 **2.143.420.970.9531030-7453
GSE87640 *2.523.020.860.878420-5862
GSE98876 **2.544.770.890.817126-69100
GSE79329 **2.633.740.920.893443-70100
GSE99624 **2.723.730.930.811649-8238
GSE107737 *3.033.620.340.461218-29100
GSE112696 *3.752.780.340.23622-2767
GSE59065 **4.355.010.950.9429522-8448
GSE103911 *6.966.140.850.766527-7771
Table 4  In seven out of 15 verification studies, DeepMAge performed better than the 353 CpG clock according to two quality metrics (MedAE and Pearson’s r).
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