Send to:

Choose Destination
See comment in PubMed Commons below
Biol Psychiatry. 2012 May 1;71(9):767-73. doi: 10.1016/j.biopsych.2011.08.020. Epub 2011 Oct 5.

Hostility and cellular aging in men from the Whitehall II cohort.

Author information

  • 1Department of Epidemiology and Public Health, University College London, United Kingdom.



Hostility is associated with a significantly increased risk of age-related disease and mortality, yet the pathophysiological mechanisms involved remain unclear. Here we investigated the hypothesis that hostility might impact health by promoting cellular aging.


We tested the relationship between cynical hostility and two known markers of cellular aging, leukocyte telomere length (TL) and leukocyte telomerase activity (TA), in 434 men and women from the Whitehall II cohort.


High-hostile men had significantly shorter leukocyte TL than their low-hostile counterparts. They also had elevated leukocyte TA, with a significantly increased likelihood of having both short TL and high TA, compared with low-hostile individuals.


Because telomerase is known to counteract telomere shortening by synthesizing telomeric DNA repeats, particularly in the context of shortened telomeres, heightened TA might represent a compensatory response in high-hostile individuals. The relationship between hostility and disease is stronger in men than in women, and men generally have a shorter life expectancy than women. Our findings suggest that telomere attrition might represent a novel mechanism mediating the detrimental effects of hostility on men's health.

Copyright © 2012 Society of Biological Psychiatry. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article
PubMed Commons home

PubMed Commons

How to join PubMed Commons

    Supplemental Content

    Full text links

    Icon for Elsevier Science Icon for PubMed Central
    Loading ...
    Write to the Help Desk