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Exp Gerontol. 2002 Apr;37(4):513-21.

Telomere shortening with aging in human thyroid and parathyroid tissue.

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Endocrine and Metabolic Unit, Department of Surgery, The University of Tokyo, 3-28-6 Mejirodai Bunkyo-ku, Tokyo 112-8688, Japan.


Progressive telomere shortening with aging was studied using normal thyroid tissue specimens from 46 human subjects aged between 0 and 98 yr and normal parathyroid tissue specimens from 21 human subjects aged between 0 and 83 yrs. There has hitherto been no information documented about telomere length in such thyroid and parathyroid tissues. Age-related shortening at rates of 91 and 92 base pairs (bp) per year, respectively, were observed. Telomere lengths of normal thyroid tissues were 16.53 +/- 1.10 (mean +/- SE), 14.31 +/- 0.80, 11.27 +/- 0.68 and 8.73 +/- 1.08 kbp for age groups less than 2, 20-50, 51-80 and more than 80 yr. Telomere lengths of normal parathyroid tissues were 15.80 +/- 1.46 (mean +/- SE), 15.36 +/- 0.86 and 10.93 +/- 0.78 kbp for age groups less than 4, 20-50 and 51-80 yr. Telomere shortening occurred after 50 yr of age in thyroid and parathyroid tissues. Human thyroid and parathyroid tissues do not seem to show the rapid reduction in telomere length early in life that was reported for some human cell types, suggesting that the rate of telomere shortening has tissue-specific characteristics.

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