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Mech Ageing Dev. 1999 Jan 15;106(3):261-71.

Telomere shortening during aging of human osteoblasts in vitro and leukocytes in vivo: lack of excessive telomere loss in osteoporotic patients.

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University Department of Endocrinology and Metabolism, Danish Centre for Molecular Gerontology, University of Aarhus, Aarhus C, Denmark.


We have compared the telomere length, as assessed by Southern analysis, of telomere restriction fragments (TRFs) generated by RsaI/HinfI digestion of genomic DNA in: (i) in vitro cultured human trabecular osteoblasts undergoing cellular aging; and (ii) peripheral blood leukocytes (PBL) obtained from three groups of women: young (aged 20-26 years, n = 15), elderly (aged 48-85 years, n = 15) and osteoporotic (aged 52-81 years, n = 14). The mean TRF length in human osteoblasts undergoing aging in vitro decreased from an average of 9.32 kilobasepairs (kb) in middle-aged cells to an average of 7.80 kb in old cells. The rate of TRF shortening was about 100 bp per population doubling, which is similar to what has been reported for other cell types, such as human fibroblasts. Furthermore, there was a 30% decline in the total amount of telomeric DNA in senescent osteoblasts as compared with young cells. In the case of PBL, TRF length in the DNA extracted from young women was slightly longer (6.76 +/- 0.64 kb) than that from a group of elderly women (6.42 +/- 0.71 kb). A comparison of TRFs in the DNA extracted from the PBL from osteoporotic patients and from age-matched controls did not show any significant differences (6.47 +/- 0.94 versus 6.42 +/- 0.71 kb, respectively). Therefore, using TRF length as a marker for cellular aging in vitro and in vivo, our data comparing TRFs from osteoporotic patients and age-matched controls do not support the notion of the occurrence of a generalized premature cellular aging in osteoporotic patients.

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