Mean telomere length is not associated with current health status in a 50‐year‐old population sample
Abstract Objectives Telomeres are nucleoprotein complexes that cap the ends of linear chromosomes. Telomeric DNA decreases with age and shows considerable heterogeneity in the wider population. There is interest in the application of telomere length measures as a biomarker of general health or “biological age,” and the possibility of using mean telomere length to gauge individual disease risk, and to promote lifestyle changes to improve health. This study examined the effectiveness of telomere length as a biomarker for an individual's current overall health status by assessing several measures of general health including SF‐36v2 score, current smoking status and a comprehensive obesity phenotype. Methods Participants were from the Canterbury Health, Ageing and Lifecourse (CHALICE) cohort, a New Zealand population based multidisciplinary study of aging. Telomere length measurements were obtained on DNA from peripheral blood samples at age 49–51 ( n = 351), using a quantitative polymerase chain reaction assay. Results No associations were found between telomere length measured at age 49–51 and any measures of current health status. The only significant association observed was between telomere length and gender, with females having longer telomere length than men. Conclusions Our results suggest that telomere length measurements are unlikely to provide information of much predictive significance for an individual's health status.
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