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Circ Res. 2004 Mar 19;94(5):575-84.

Telomeres and cardiovascular disease: does size matter?

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Laboratory of Vascular Biology, Department of Molecular and Cellular Pathology and Therapy, Instituto de Biomedicina de Valencia, Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas, Valencia, Spain.


Telomeres-the specialized DNA-protein structures at the ends of eukaryotic chromosomes-are essential for maintaining genome stability and integrity and for extended proliferative life span in both cultured cells and in the whole organism. Telomerase and additional telomere-associated proteins are necessary for preserving telomeric DNA length. Age-dependent telomere shortening in most somatic cells, including vascular endothelial cells, smooth muscle cells, and cardiomyocytes, is thought to impair cellular function and viability of the aged organism. Telomere dysfunction is emerging as an important factor in the pathogenesis of hypertension, atherosclerosis, and heart failure. In this Review, we discuss present studies on telomeres and telomere-associated proteins in cardiovascular pathobiology and their implications for therapeutics.

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