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Mech Ageing Dev. 2005 Oct;126(10):1115-22.

Telomere length versus hormonal and bone mineral status in healthy elderly men.

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Department for Molecular Biotechnology, Faculty of Bioscience Engineering, Ghent University, Ghent, Belgium.


Telomeres, the termini of linear chromosomes, exert a key role in the process of cellular ageing. Progressive telomere shortening is implicated in senescence in vitro and ample evidence exists to support the hypothesis that telomere length is correlated with chronological age and ageing phenotypes in vivo. In this study, we assessed whether mean telomere length of peripheral blood leukocytes predicts age-associated bone loss and/or is related to sex steroid status in an elderly healthy male population (71-86 years). Out of this population, we selected 110 samples for telomere restriction fragment (TRF) length analysis. Fasting blood was analysed for testosterone, estradiol, sex hormone binding globulin and biochemical markers of bone turnover. Also, the bioavailable fractions of sex steroids were calculated. Bone mineral density was measured at baseline and longitudinal follow-up was available for 84 men. We found that mean TRF length was inversely correlated with age (r=-0.19; P=0.049). Although no correlations were found with sex steroids or BMD at baseline, age corrected mean TRF length was associated with longitudinal bone loss for different distal forearm sites (P<0.05). Further studies are required to confirm our results, yet in this study, the predictive value of telomere length for bone loss appears to be substantial, hence underscoring the role of telomere length as a biomarker of ageing phenotypes.

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