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Br J Psychiatry. 2015 May;206(5):371-8. doi: 10.1192/bjp.bp.114.151027. Epub 2015 Feb 5.

Anxiety disorders and accelerated cellular ageing.

Author information

1
Josine E. Verhoeven, MSc, Dóra Révész, MSc, Patricia van Oppen, PhD, Department of Psychiatry and EMGO Institute for Health and Care Research, VU University Medical Center, Amsterdam, The Netherlands; Elissa S. Epel, PhD, Owen M. Wolkowitz, MD, Department of Psychiatry, University of California, San Francisco, School of Medicine, San Francisco, California, USA; Brenda W. J. H. Penninx, PhD, Department of Psychiatry and EMGO Institute for Health and Care Research, VU University Medical Center, Amsterdam, The Netherlands.

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

Anxiety disorders increase the risk of onset of several ageing-related somatic conditions, which might be the consequence of accelerated cellular ageing.

AIMS:

To examine the association between anxiety status and leukocyte telomere length (LTL) as an indicator of cellular ageing.

METHOD:

Data are from individuals with current (n = 1283) and remitted (n = 459) anxiety disorder, and controls (n = 582) with no psychiatric disorder from the Netherlands Study of Depression and Anxiety. We determined DSM-IV anxiety diagnoses and clinical characteristics by structured psychiatric interviews and self-report questionnaires; LTL was assessed using quantitative polymerase chain reaction and converted into base pairs (bp).

RESULTS:

Patients in the current anxiety group (bp = 5431) had significantly shorter LTL compared with the control group (bp = 5506, P = 0.01) and the remitted anxiety group (bp = 5499, P = 0.03) in analyses adjusted for sociodemographics, health and lifestyle. The remitted anxiety group did not differ from the control group (P = 0.84), however, time since remission was positively related with LTL. Furthermore, anxiety severity scores were associated with LTL in the whole sample, in line with a dose-response association.

CONCLUSIONS:

Patients with current - but not remitted - anxiety disorder had shorter telomere length, suggesting a process of accelerated cellular ageing, which in part may be reversible after remission.

PMID:
25657360
DOI:
10.1192/bjp.bp.114.151027
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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