• Li-Fraumeni syndrome;
  • germline TP53 mutation;
  • telomere length;
  • cancer onset;
  • real-time quantitative PCR;
  • anticipation



A decrease in the age at cancer onset and increase in cancer incidence in successive generations in Li-Fraumeni syndrome (LFS) families with germline TP53 mutations have been previously described. In the current study a possible relation was analyzed between telomere length and cancer onset in TP53 mutation carriers.


Telomere length was measured using real-time quantitative polymerase chain reaction (PCR) in 20 carriers of germline TP53 mutations and in 83 unrelated healthy individuals. According to the age at blood sampling, patients and controls were divided into 2 age groups, children and adults. Telomere length was correlated to TP53 mutation status and telomere shortening in patients to the age at cancer onset. A t-test and linear regression were used to analyze the data.


Compared with healthy controls, telomere length was significantly shorter both in the child (P = .001) and adult (P = .034) germline T53 mutation carriers. Although a statistically significant correlation between telomere shortening and the age at cancer onset was not observed, there was a trend of shorter telomeres in mutation carriers affected in childhood compared with those affected later in life. Neither cancer therapy nor sex differences were likely to affect the results.


The findings suggest a possible link between the carriership of a germline TP53 mutation, telomere length, predisposition to early-onset cancer, and anticipation in LFS. Cancer 2007. © 2007 American Cancer Society.