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Rejuvenation Res. 2018 Aug;21(4):294-303. doi: 10.1089/rej.2017.1937. Epub 2017 Jun 19.

Lifecourse Adversity and Telomere Length in Older Women from Northeast Brazil.

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1 Department of Physiotherapy, Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Norte , Natal, Brazil .
2 Institut de Recherche en Santé Publique de l'Université de Montréal (IRSPUM) , Montréal, Canada .
3 University of Florida , Gainesville, Florida.
4 Department of Cell Biology and Genetics, Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Norte , Natal, Brazil .
5 Faculty of Medicine-FAMED, Universidade Federal dos Vales do Jequitinhonha e Mucuri , Campus JK, Diamantina, Brazil .


We examined associations between adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) and shorter telomere length (TL) in 83 older women, including 42 women with less than secondary education and 41 with secondary or more education in a city of Northeast Brazil, a region with substantial socioeconomic inequalities. The low education sample was selected from a representative survey at local neighborhood health centers, while the high education group consisted of a convenience sample recruited by advertising in community centers and centers affiliated with the local university. Relative leukocyte TL was measured by quantitative polymerase chain reaction from blood samples. ACEs were self-reported. Spline linear regression was fitted to assess the strength of the associations between ACEs and TL. Among women with low education, median TL was 1.02 compared with 0.64 in the high education group (p = 0.0001). Natural log-transformed T/S ratio as the dependent variable was used in analysis. Women with low education had been exposed to more ACEs, and among them those experiencing two or more ACEs had longer TL than women exposed to ≤1 ACEs (p = 0.03); among women with high education, this difference was not significant (p = 0.49). In analyses adjusted by age, education, and parental abuse of alcohol, the linear trend of higher TL with increasing ACEs was confirmed (p = 0.02), and the mean difference in TL between groups remained significant (p = 0.002). The unexpected positive relationship between low education and ACEs with TL suggests that older adults who have survived harsh conditions prevailing in Northeast Brazil have the longest TL of their birth cohort.


adverse childhood experiences; aging; education; survival risk; women

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