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epiAge Experience: Experiment 1 – Donating Blood

Experience epiAge!

Dr. Gwen Bingle
July 13, 2023

Experiment 1 – Donating Blood

That stress makes you age is a rather worn truism. But in the world of epigenetic research, precisely measuring the impact of different stressors on biological ageing is still revolutionary.  Recently Horvath, Poganik et al. (Cell Metabolism 35, 807–820. May 2, 2023) were able to show that major stressors such as emergency surgery, pregnancy and severe Covid-19 could provoke a steep age acceleration that then usually tapered off, before returning to baseline.

But sources of stress need not necessarily be quite so dramatic to nevertheless display an impact. Our two test-persons (n=2; F + M) are blood donors and they were curious to witness the after-effects of this life-saving gesture. Can you guess the outcome?

Yes, you’re right: donating blood (even “just” half a litre) represents a major stress for the body. Just take a look at our probands’ charts:

line chart showing bio age acceleration after blood donation in female proband

Chart 1 shows the effect of the donation on the female test person. Three tests were carried out within about a month. The relatively steep 8-year acceleration and the subsequent slow deceleration impressively illustrate the potential impact of a blood donation.  

line chart showing bio age acceleration after blood donation in male proband

Chart 2 displays a more intensive but very short-term experiment with a male test person. Tests were carried out every day over 6 days. If anything, the acceleration in this case appears even steeper due to the shorter time frame considered.

Interestingly, despite the different time frames and the individual speeds of change, both donation experiments seem to correlate with a marked acceleration in biological age before returning to baseline. Moreover, the acceleration does not happen immediately after the procedure, suggesting that it may be the repair or replenishing mechanisms that really tax the body’s resources.

The good news, however, is that the body does recover, even if the speed of recovery seems to be very individual. This positive outcome should then hopefully allay fears of ageing when donating blood!

Curious about the next instalment?

Stay tuned…



Jesse R. Poganik, Bohan Zhang, Gurpreet S. Baht, Alexander Tyshkovskiy, Amy Deik, Csaba Kerepesi, Sun Hee Yim, Ake T. Lu, Amin Haghani, Tong Gong, Anna M. Hedman, Ellika Andolf, Göran Pershagen, Catarina Almqvist, Clary B. Clish, Steve Horvath, James P. White, Vadim N. Gladyshev, „Biological age is increased by stress and restored upon recovery“, Cell Metabolism, Volume 35, Issue 5, 2023, 807-820.e5, Online: (last accessed: 13.07.2023)

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Karolina Grabowska / pexels

Dr. Gwen Bingle
epiAge Deutschland Content & Customer Relations
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