Inverse association between adiposity and telomere length: The fels longitudinal study

Authors

  • Miryoung Lee,

    1. Lifespan Health Research Center, Boonshoft School of Medicine, Wright State University, Dayton, Ohio 45420
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  • Hilarie Martin,

    1. Division of Epidemiology and Community Health, School of Public Health, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, Minnesota 55454
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  • Matthew A. Firpo,

    1. Department of Surgery, School of Medicine, University of Utah, Salt Lake City, Utah 84112
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  • Ellen W. Demerath

    Corresponding author
    1. Division of Epidemiology and Community Health, School of Public Health, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, Minnesota 55454
    • Division of Epidemiology and Community Health, School of Public Health, University of Minnesota, 1300 South Second Street, Suite 300, Minneapolis, MN 55454, USA
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Abstract

Objectives

To assess the relationship between telomere length and adiposity, using dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry (DXA) and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), in addition to conventional anthropometric proxies including body mass index (BMI) and cardiovascular disease risk factors.

Methods

A cross-sectional sample of 309 non-Hispanic white participants in the Fels Longitudinal Study aged 8 to 80 yr (52% female) was included. Average telomere length was measured by quantitative PCR.

Results

Telomere length was negatively correlated with age (r = −0.32, P < 0.0001) and had numerous significant correlations with established cardiovascular disease risk factors including waist circumference (r = −0.33), apolipoprotein B (r = −0.26), systolic blood pressure (r = −0.28), and fasting serum glucose (r = −0.15); all P < 0.0025. In backward selection linear regression models of telomere length, adiposity measures were consistently retained in the best models; BMI, waist circumference, hip circumference, total body fat, and visceral adipose tissue volume were all inversely associated with telomere length at the nominal P < 0.05 level or lower, independent of age, sex, systolic blood pressure, and fasting serum lipid, lipoprotein, and glucose concentrations. The negative association of BMI with telomere length was stronger among younger than older participants (P for interaction, 0.03).

Conclusions

Individuals with higher total and abdominal adiposity have lower telomere length, a marker of cellular senescence, suggesting obesity may hasten the aging process. Longitudinal studies are required to establish the causal association of early life adiposity with biological aging. Am. J. Hum. Biol., 2011. © 2010 Wiley-Liss, Inc.

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