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PLoS One. 2017 Apr 25;12(4):e0176138. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0176138. eCollection 2017.

Short telomere length is associated with renal impairment in Japanese subjects with cardiovascular risk.

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Division of Cardiovascular Medicine, Department of Medicine, Jichi Medical University, Tochigi, Japan.
Department of Neurology, Columbia University College of Physicians & Surgeons, New York, NY, United States of America.
Sergievsky Center/Taub Institute, Columbia University, New York, NY, United States of America.



Short telomere length has been suggested to be associated with atherosclerotic changes in Western populations. We examined the relationships between leukocyte telomere length and cardiovascular and renal function in a Japanese cohort.


We enrolled 770 subjects who each had at least one cardiovascular risk factor. The mean age was 59.5 ± 12.2 years; mean BMI was 25.1 ± 4.6 kg/m2. We measured leukocyte telomere length (LTL) by quantitative PCR (T/S ratio), and measured other biomarkers from blood and urine samples. In addition, we assessed surrogate markers of arterial stiffness, cardiovascular organ damage and kidney function, including flow-mediated vasodilation (FMD), pulse wave velocity (PWV), carotid artery augmentation index (CAAI), and urinary albumin creatinine ratio (UACR) and eGFR.


Leukocyte telomere length (T/S ratio) was inversely associated with age (r = -0.194, P<0.001), and was lower in men (1.13 ± 0.29%) than in women (1.20 ± 0.31%, P = 0.002). T/S ratio was positively associated with BMI in women (r = 0.11, P = 0.047), but not in men. LTL did not show a significant relationship to cardiovascular surrogate markers, including arterial stiffness, FMD, and PWV, but did show some relationship to CAAI, which was inversely associated with T/S ratio only in men (r = -0.159, P = 0.015). LTL did show a significant positive association with renal function measured by eGFR (r = 0.16, P<0.001) both in men and women.


In this Japanese sample of persons with increased cardiovascular risk, telomere length showed a relationship of longer telomere length to better renal function, but did not overall show convincing association with cardiovascular measures of arterial stiffness and target organ damage.

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