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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2004 Dec 7;101(49):17312-5. Epub 2004 Dec 1.

Accelerated telomere shortening in response to life stress.

Author information

  • 1Department of Psychiatry, University of California, 3333 California Street, Suite 465, San Francisco, CA 94143, USA. elissa@itsa.ucsf.edu

Abstract

Numerous studies demonstrate links between chronic stress and indices of poor health, including risk factors for cardiovascular disease and poorer immune function. Nevertheless, the exact mechanisms of how stress gets "under the skin" remain elusive. We investigated the hypothesis that stress impacts health by modulating the rate of cellular aging. Here we provide evidence that psychological stress--both perceived stress and chronicity of stress--is significantly associated with higher oxidative stress, lower telomerase activity, and shorter telomere length, which are known determinants of cell senescence and longevity, in peripheral blood mononuclear cells from healthy premenopausal women. Women with the highest levels of perceived stress have telomeres shorter on average by the equivalent of at least one decade of additional aging compared to low stress women. These findings have implications for understanding how, at the cellular level, stress may promote earlier onset of age-related diseases.

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PMID:
15574496
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
PMCID:
PMC534658
Free PMC Article

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