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Drug News Perspect. 2003 May;16(4):211-6.

The role of telomerase activation in the regulation of vascular smooth muscle cell proliferation.

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Department of Cardiovascular Science and Medicine, Chiba University Graduate School of Medicine, Chiba, Japan.


Telomeres are primarily controlled by a highly specialized DNA polymerase, termed telomerase. In early studies, high levels of telomerase activity were detected in cancer cells, but no activity was found in most normal somatic cells, leading to the speculation that telomerase might be required for tumor growth. Recent studies have demonstrated that introduction of the telomerase catalytic component (TERT) into telomerase- negative cells activates telomerase and extends cell lifespan, whereas mice lacking telomerase activity revealed impaired cell proliferation in some organs as well as reduced tumorigenesis. These findings suggest that telomerase plays an important role in long-term cell viability and cell proliferation. We have recently demonstrated a crucial role of telomerase activation in the regulation of vascular smooth muscle cell (VSMC) proliferation and clarified the mechanisms by which telomerase is activated in the process of VSMC growth. Moreover, increasing evidence suggests that telomerase activity contributes to the vascular pathophysiology. Thus, further understanding of the role of telomerase and telomere function would provide new insights into the treatment of human vascular disorders.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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