Sex differences in biological aging and the association with clinical measures in older adults

Aung Zaw Zaw Phyo, Peter D. Fransquet, Jo Wrigglesworth, Robyn L. Woods, Sara E. Espinoza, Joanne Ryan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Females live longer than males, and there are sex disparities in physical health and disease incidence. However, sex differences in biological aging have not been consistently reported and may differ depending on the measure used. This study aimed to determine the correlations between epigenetic age acceleration (AA), and other markers of biological aging, separately in males and females. We additionally explored the extent to which these AA measures differed according to socioeconomic characteristics, clinical markers, and diseases. Epigenetic clocks (HorvathAge, HannumAge, PhenoAge, GrimAge, GrimAge2, and DunedinPACE) were estimated in blood from 560 relatively healthy Australians aged ≥ 70 years (females, 50.7%) enrolled in the ASPREE study. A system-wide deficit accumulation frailty index (FI) composed of 67 health-related measures was generated. Brain age and subsequently brain-predicted age difference (brain-PAD) were estimated from neuroimaging. Females had significantly reduced AA than males, but higher FI, and there was no difference in brain-PAD. FI had the strongest correlation with DunedinPACE (range r: 0.21 to 0.24 in both sexes). Brain-PAD was not correlated with any biological aging measures. Significant correlations between AA and sociodemographic characteristics and health markers were more commonly found in females (e.g., for DunedinPACE and systolic blood pressure r = 0.2, p < 0.001) than in males. GrimAA and Grim2AA were significantly associated with obesity and depression in females, while in males, hypertension, diabetes, and chronic kidney disease were associated with these clocks, as well as DunedinPACE. Our findings highlight the importance of considering sex differences when investigating the link between biological age and clinical measures.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1775-1788
Number of pages14
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 2024
Externally publishedYes


  • Brain-predicted age difference
  • DNA methylation
  • Epigenetic aging
  • Frailty
  • Health markers
  • Sex differences

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geriatrics and Gerontology
  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine
  • Aging
  • Complementary and alternative medicine
  • veterinary (miscalleneous)


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