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Papers of the Week

Papers: 28 Oct 2023 - 3 Nov 2023

2023 Oct 29

J Pain


The Pace of Biological Aging Predicts Non-Specific Chronic Low Back Pain Severity.


Aroke EN, Srinivasasainagendra V, Kottae P, Quinn TL, Wiggins AM, Hobson J, Kinnie K, Stoudmire T, Tiwari HK, Goodin BR


This study aimed to determine if and how the pace of biological aging was associated with nonspecific cLBP and to compare what measure of epigenetic age acceleration most strongly predicts cLBP outcomes. We used the Dunedin Pace of Aging from the Epigenome (DunedinPACE), Horvath’s, Hannum’s, and PhenoAge clocks to determine the pace of biological aging in 69 cLBP, and 49 pain-free controls (PFCs) adults, ages 18 to 85 years. On average, participants with cLBP had higher DunedinPACE (p < 0.001) but lower Horvath (p = 0.04) and Hannum (p = 0.02) accelerated epigenetic age than PFCs. There was no significant difference in PhenoAge acceleration between the cLBP and PFC groups (p = 0.97). DunedinPACE had the largest effect size (Cohen’s d = 0.78) on group differences. In univariate regressions, a unit increase in DunedinPACE score was associated with 265.98 times higher odds of cLBP than the PFC group (p < 0.001). After controlling for sex, race, and BMI, the odds ratio of cLBP to PFC group was 149.62 (p < 0.001). Furthermore, among participants with cLBP, DunedinPACE scores positively correlated with pain severity (rs = 0.385, p = 0.001) and interference (rs = 0.338, p = 0.005). Epigenetic age acceleration from Horvath, Hannum, and PhenoAge clocks were not significant predictors of cLBP. The odds of a faster pace of biological aging are higher among adults with cLBP, and this was associated with greater pain severity and disability. Future interventions to slow the pace of biological aging may improve cLBP outcomes. PERSPECTIVES: Accelerated epigenetic aging is common among adults with non-specific chronic low back pain (cLBP). Higher DunedinPACE scores positively correlate with pain severity and interference, and better predict cLBP than other DNA methylation clocks. Interventions to slow the pace of biological aging may be viable targets for improving pain outcomes.