Machine Learning Approaches for the Estimation of Biological Aging: The Road Ahead for Population Studies

Moli-sani Study Investigators

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In recent years, different machine learning algorithms have been developed for the estimation of Biological Age (BA), defined as the hypothetical underlying age of an organism. BA can be computed based on different circulating and non-circulating biomarkers. In this perspective, identifying biomarkers with a prominent influence on BA and developing reliable models for its estimation is of fundamental importance for monitoring healthy aging, and could provide new tools to screen health status and the risk of clinical events in the general population. Here, we briefly review the different machine learning (ML) approaches used for BA estimation, focusing on those methods with potential application to the Moli-sani study, a prospective population-based cohort study of 24,325 subjects (35-99 years). In particular, we discuss the potential of BA estimation based on blood biomarkers, which likely represents the easiest and most immediate way to compute organismal BA. Similarly, we describe ML methods for the estimation of brain age based on structural neuroimaging features. For each method, we discuss the relation with epidemiological variables (e.g., mortality), genetic and environmental factors, and common age-related diseases (e.g., Alzheimer disease), to examine the potential as aging biomarker in the general population. Finally, we hypothesize new approaches for BA estimation, both at the single organ and at the whole organism level. Overall, here we trace the road ahead in the Big Data era for our and other prospective general population cohorts, presenting ways to exploit the notable amount of data available nowadays.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)146
JournalFrontiers in Medicine
Publication statusPublished - 2019


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