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Am J Clin Nutr. 2013 Apr;97(4):794-9. doi: 10.3945/ajcn.112.051557. Epub 2013 Feb 27.

One-carbon metabolism factors and leukocyte telomere length.

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Departments of Epidemiology, Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, MA, USA.



Dietary and genetic factors involved in the one-carbon metabolism pathway may affect telomere length through DNA methylation and synthesis, but this has not been comprehensively investigated in epidemiologic studies.


We cross-sectionally examined associations between dietary and genetic factors in the one-carbon metabolism pathway and relative peripheral blood leukocyte telomere length.


A total of 1715 participants from the Nurses' Health Study (NHS) had measurements of relative telomere length and plasma concentrations of folate, vitamin B-6, vitamin B-12, cysteine, and homocysteine. Food-frequency questionnaire (FFQ) measurements were also used for the assessment of folate, choline, methionine, riboflavin, vitamin B-6, vitamin B-12, and alcohol intakes. Genotyping was performed on 475 participants with telomere measurements on 29 mostly nonsynonymous single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) involved in one-carbon metabolism. Unconditional logistic and linear regression models were used.


There were no significant dose-response relations between any plasma- or FFQ-measured dietary factors and relative telomere length in multivariate analyses. For folate, vitamin B-6, and vitamin B-12, results from the use of FFQ data were consistent with plasma-biomarker findings. We showed no significant associations that involved SNPs and relative telomere length after we accounted for the false discovery rate.


Our analyses involving plasma and questionnaire measurements of one-carbon metabolism factors show that some key dietary and genetic factors in this metabolic network are not associated with relative peripheral blood leukocyte telomere length.

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