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PLoS One. 2019 Oct 11;14(10):e0223766. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0223766. eCollection 2019.

Correlates of longitudinal leukocyte telomere length in the Costa Rican Longevity Study of Healthy Aging (CRELES): On the importance of DNA collection and storage procedures.

Author information

1
Centro Centroamericano de Población, Universidad de Costa Rica, San Jose, Costa Rica.
2
School of Medicine, Division of Primary Care and Population Health, Stanford University, Stanford, CA, United States of America.
3
Health Policy and Management, University of California Berkeley, Berkeley, CA, United States of America.
4
Biochemistry and Biophysics, University of California San Francisco, San Francisco, CA, United States of America.
5
Psychiatry, University of California San Francisco, San Francisco, CA, United States of America.
6
Escuela de Biología, Universidad de Costa Rica, San Jose, Costa Rica.

Abstract

The objective is to identify cofactors of leukocyte telomere length (LTL) in a Latin American population, specifically the association of LTL with 36 socio-demographic, early childhood, and health characteristics, as well as with DNA sample collection and storage procedures. The analysis is based on longitudinal information from a subsample of 1,261 individuals aged 60+ years at baseline from the Costa Rican Study of Longevity and Healthy Aging (CRELES): a nationally representative sample of elderly population. Random effects regression models for panel data were used to estimate the associations with LTL and its longitudinal changes. Sample collection procedures and DNA refrigerator storage time were strongly associated with LTL: telomeres are longer in blood collected in October-December, in DNA extracted from <1-year-old blood cells, and in DNA stored at 4°C for longer periods of time up to five years. The data confirmed that telomeres are shorter at older ages, as well as among males, and diabetic individuals, whereas telomeres are longer in the high-longevity Nicoya region. Most health, biomarkers, and early childhood indicators did not show significant associations with LTL. Longitudinal LTL variation over approximately two years was mainly associated with baseline LTL levels, as found in other studies. Our findings suggest that if there is unavoidable variability in season of sample collection and DNA storage time, these factors should be controlled for in all demographic and epidemiologic studies of LTL. However, due to unobserved components of measurement variation, statistical control may be inadequate as compared to standardization of data collection procedures.

Conflict of interest statement

The authors have declared that no competing interests exist.

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