NU-AGE project (‘NU-AGE: New dietary strategies addressing the specific needs of the elderly population for healthy aging in Europe’), supported by the European Union’s Seventh Framework Program under grant agreement n°266486, was a five-year course project, involving a consortium of 30 partners from 17 European countries.
Its aim was to study how a whole modified Mediterranean diet can impact on age-related diseases and functional decline and has the potential to act as a central modulator of inflammaging and its outcomes. 1250 volunteers, aged 65-79 years, free from overt diseases, assessed as either non- or pre-frail, were randomized into one of the two study groups (control or diet). The nutritional intervention consisted of a one-year whole Mediterranean diet, specifically designed according to the nutritional needs of people over 65 years of age. All participants were characterized before and after the intervention and advanced immunology, genetics, epigenetics, transcriptomics, metagenomics and metabolomics measures have been performed in a selected subgroup of 120 volunteers.
Epigenetic analysis consisted in the evaluation of genome-wide blood DNA methylation profiles. It was conducted using the Illumina Infinium technology, in a subgroup of participants who belonged to the interventional group and comprised 60 Italians and 60 Polish.
Using the online age calculator developed by Steve Horvath (who developed the most famous epigenetic clock, published in 2013), we calculated the DNA methylation age (also referred to as epigenetic age) of the subjects before and after the one-year nutritional intervention. We also considered three measures of epigenetic age acceleration, named Age Acceleration, Intrinsic and Extrinsic Epigenetic Age Acceleration and evaluated the impact of the intervention on these specific measures.