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J Gerontol A Biol Sci Med Sci. 2011 Jan;66(1):38-44. doi: 10.1093/gerona/glq164. Epub 2010 Oct 1.

Telomere length and mortality in elderly men: the Zutphen Elderly Study.

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Department of Health Risk Analysis and Toxicology, NUTRIM School for Nutrition, Toxicology and Metabolism, Maastricht University Medical Centre, The Netherlands.


Telomere shortening is a marker of aging and therefore telomere length might be related to disease progression and survival. To address these questions, we measured leukocyte telomere length (LTL) in male participants from the Zutphen Elderly Study. LTL was measured by quantitative polymerase chain reaction in 203 men: mean aged 78 years in 1993 and 75 surviving participants mean aged 83 years in 2000. During 7 years of follow-up, 105 men died. Cox proportional hazards models were used to estimate hazard ratios for all-cause and cause-specific mortality. We found that LTL declined with a mean of 40.2 bp/year, and LTL values measured in 1993 and 2000 correlated significantly (r = .51, p < .001). Longer telomeres at baseline were not predictive for all-cause mortality, cardiovascular mortality, or cancer mortality. These results suggest that LTL decreases with increasing age and that LTL is not related to mortality in men aged more than 70 years.

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