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Atherosclerosis. 2010 Jul;211(1):176-81. doi: 10.1016/j.atherosclerosis.2010.01.037. Epub 2010 Feb 4.

Leukocyte telomere length is associated with measures of subclinical atherosclerosis.

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Department of Medicine, Division of Cardiovascular Genetics, UCL, London, UK.



Our aim was to test the association of mean leukocyte telomere length (LTL) with ultrasonic measures of subclinical atherosclerosis such as intima-media thickness in the common carotid (IMTcc) and sum of plaque areas (SPA) and with serological markers.


Carotid and femoral bifurcations were scanned in 762 general population volunteers (46% men) over 40. Four features were considered: (a) IMTcc, (b) sum plaque areas of carotid plaques (SPAcar), (c) sum plaque area of common femoral plaques (SPAfem) and (d) sum plaque area (SPA--sum of the plaque areas of the largest plaques present in each of both carotid and femoral bifurcations). Mean LTL was determined with a quantitative real-time PCR-based method. IMTcc was strongly associated with mean LTL both before and after correction for traditional risk factors (B=-0.002; 95% CI=-0.004 to -0.00; p=0.014). In sex-specific analysis, the association was stronger in men (p for sex interaction<0.001). SPAfem was associated with LTL in women before and after correction (B=-0.195; 95% CI=-0.38 to -0.01; p=0.037) (p for sex interaction<0.001). LTL was also associated with age and sex-adjusted levels of hsCRP (p=0.012), sCD40L (p=0.042), homocysteine (p=0.006), creatinine (p=0.02), ApoA1 (p=0.01), Lp(a) (p=0.04) and HOMA-IR (p=0.008).


Our results support the telomere hypothesis and highlight potential differences in the biological mechanisms leading to intima-media thickening and/or plaque formation between vascular beds. They may provide insights into a novel treatment of antisenescence to prevent atherosclerosis.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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