The prediction of chronological age from methylation-based biomarkers represents one of the most promising applications in the field of forensic sciences. Age-prediction models developed so far are not easily applicable for forensic caseworkers. Among the several attempts to pursue this objective, the formulation of single-locus models might represent a good strategy. The present work aimed to develop an accurate single-locus model for age prediction exploiting ELOVL2, a gene for which epigenetic alterations are most highly correlated with age. We carried out a systematic review of different published pyrosequencing datasets in which methylation of the ELOVL2 promoter was analysed to formulate age prediction models. Nine of these, with available datasets involving 2298 participants, were selected. We found that irrespective of which model was adopted, a very strong relationship between ELOVL2 methylation levels and age exists. In particular, the model giving the best age-prediction accuracy was the gradient boosting regressor with a prediction error of about 5.5 years. The findings reported here strongly support the use of ELOVL2 for the formulation of a single-locus epigenetic model, but the inclusion of additional, non-redundant markers is a fundamental requirement to apply a molecular model to forensic applications with more robust results.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Organic Chemistry
- Molecular Biology
- Physical and Theoretical Chemistry
- Inorganic Chemistry
- Computer Science Applications