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Atherosclerosis. 2010 May;210(1):262-7. doi: 10.1016/j.atherosclerosis.2009.10.047. Epub 2009 Nov 10.

Leukocyte telomere length and coronary artery calcification.

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Department of Family Medicine, Medical University of South Carolina, 295 Calhoun St., Charleston, SC 29425, USA.



Leukocyte telomere length is representative of biological aging and is associated with clinical coronary artery disease but its association with coronary atherosclerosis is unclear. The objective of this study was to examine the association of telomere length with coronary artery calcification in middle aged adults.


Leukocyte telomere length was measured with a quantitative PCR-based technique and coronary artery calcification (CAC) scoring was performed on a dual-source CT scanner in a sample of 325 adults aged 40-64 years old free of previously diagnosed diabetes, CHD, stroke and cancer. We used logistic regression to determine the association of presence of CAC (Agatston score >0 versus 0) with telomere length adjusted for age, gender, race and metabolic syndrome. Finally, we examined the relation of telomere length to extensiveness of CAC.


The unadjusted odds ratio of having CAC for the shortest tertile of telomere length versus the longest was 3.39 (95% CI 1.85-6.20). After adjustment for age, race, gender and metabolic syndrome the odds decreased but remained significant (OR 2.36; 95% CI 1.23-4.52). Mean telomere length was significantly shorter with more extensive coronary calcification. The correlation between telomere length and chronological age was r=-0.19 (p<.001) while the correlation between telomere length and arterial age was r=-0.22 (p<.001).


In conclusion, telomere length is negatively associated with the presence of coronary atherosclerosis in a low risk cohort free of previously diagnosed CVD.

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