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Age Ageing. 2013 Jul;42(4):450-5. doi: 10.1093/ageing/aft036. Epub 2013 Mar 21.

Telomere length and cognitive function in southern Chinese community-dwelling male elders.

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  • 1Psychiatry, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, G/F, Multi-Centre, Tai Po Hospital Chuen On Road, Tai Po, NT Hong Kong SAR, The People's Republic of China.



telomere attrition has been associated with an increased risk of different age-related diseases and is widely accepted as a marker of cellular ageing. On the other hand, it is well known that cognitive function declines with age. The telomere length may therefore act as a marker for the pathway associated with cognitive function.


we examined telomere length and cognitive functions in a community-dwelling Chinese male population aged 65 years and above living in Hong Kong. The telomere length was measured by quantitative real-time PCR in 976 men. Cognitive function was assessed by Chinese (Cantonese) version of Mini-Mental State Exam and Community Screening Interview for Dementia.


our result showed there was a significant association between telomere length, delayed recall (P = 0.007) and category verbal fluency (P = 0.048). These associations remained significant after adjustment for age and education. Further analysis using a cut-off score for MMSE, three-item recall and word list generation tests suggested that the telomere length was positively correlated with performance in these areas (P = 0.015).


the findings support the association of telomere length and cognitive function and suggested that the telomere length may serve as a biological marker for cognitive decline.


cognitive decline; elderly; genetics; older people; telomeres

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