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Exp Gerontol. 2014 Mar;51:15-27. doi: 10.1016/j.exger.2013.12.004. Epub 2013 Dec 21.

Gender and telomere length: systematic review and meta-analysis.

Author information

1
School of Social and Community Medicine, University of Bristol, Canynge Hall, Bristol, UK.
2
MRC University Unit for Lifelong Health and Ageing, University College London, UK.
3
Institute for Ageing and Health, Newcastle University, UK.
4
Faculty of Epidemiology and Population Health, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, UK.
5
Institute of Cancer Sciences, University of Glasgow, UK.
6
Medical Research Council Lifecourse Epidemiology Unit, University of Southampton, UK.
7
Department of Geriatric and Metabolic Diseases, Second University of Naples, Italy.
8
Clinical Research Center, Ghent University, Belgium.
9
Danish Aging Research Center, University of Southern Denmark, Denmark.
10
Genome Sciences Centre, BC Cancer Agency, British Columbia, Canada.
11
Tulane Center for Cardiovascular Health, Tulane University Health Sciences, New Orleans, United States.
12
Centre for Cognitive Ageing and Cognitive Epidemiology, University of Edinburgh, UK.
13
Medical Research Council/Chief Scientist Office Social and Public Health Sciences Unit, Glasgow, UK.
14
Department of Epidemiology, Center for Integrative Approaches to Health Disparities, University of Michigan, United States.
15
Department of Epidemiology, University of Washington, Seattle, United States.
16
Cardiovascular Genetics Division, University of Utah School of Medicine, Salt Lake City, United States.
17
Department of Biochemistry and Cell Biology, School of Medicine, Kyungpook National University Daegu, Republic of Korea.
18
Department of Epidemiology and Population Health, Albert Einstein College of Medicine, New York, United States.
19
The Center of Human Development and Aging, University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey, United States.
20
Division of Hematology, Department of Medicine, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada.
21
Department of Anatomy, Liaoning Medical University, Liaoning Province, People's Republic of China.
22
Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology, Kyushu University, Oita, Japan.
23
Twin Research and Genetic Epidemiology Unit, King's College London, UK.
24
Division of Hypertension and Cardiovascular Rehabilitation, Department of Cardiovascular Sciences, University of Leuven, Belgium.
25
Department of Clinical Sciences Medicine, University Hospital, Malmö, Sweden.
26
Department of Medical Biosciences, Umeå University, Sweden.
27
Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Faculty of Medicine, University of Calgary, Canada.
28
Department of Chemical Pathology, Faculty of Medicine, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, People's Republic of China.
29
Department of Cardiology, University Medical Center Groningen, The Netherlands.
30
Department of Medicine and Therapeutics, Faculty of Medicine, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, People's Republic of China.
31
Eugene McDermott Center for Human Growth and Development, University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, United States.
32
National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, Bethesda, United States.
33
School of Social and Community Medicine, University of Bristol, Canynge Hall, Bristol, UK. Electronic address: Y.Ben-Shlomo@bristol.ac.uk.

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

It is widely believed that females have longer telomeres than males, although results from studies have been contradictory.

METHODS:

We carried out a systematic review and meta-analyses to test the hypothesis that in humans, females have longer telomeres than males and that this association becomes stronger with increasing age. Searches were conducted in EMBASE and MEDLINE (by November 2009) and additional datasets were obtained from study investigators. Eligible observational studies measured telomeres for both females and males of any age, had a minimum sample size of 100 and included participants not part of a diseased group. We calculated summary estimates using random-effects meta-analyses. Heterogeneity between studies was investigated using sub-group analysis and meta-regression.

RESULTS:

Meta-analyses from 36 cohorts (36,230 participants) showed that on average females had longer telomeres than males (standardised difference in telomere length between females and males 0.090, 95% CI 0.015, 0.166; age-adjusted). There was little evidence that these associations varied by age group (p=1.00) or cell type (p=0.29). However, the size of this difference did vary by measurement methods, with only Southern blot but neither real-time PCR nor Flow-FISH showing a significant difference. This difference was not associated with random measurement error.

CONCLUSIONS:

Telomere length is longer in females than males, although this difference was not universally found in studies that did not use Southern blot methods. Further research on explanations for the methodological differences is required.

KEYWORDS:

Epidemiology; Gender; Measurement methods; Systematic review and meta-analysis; Telomere length

PMID:
24365661
PMCID:
PMC4523138
DOI:
10.1016/j.exger.2013.12.004
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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