Tracking and fixed ranking of leukocyte telomere length across the adult life course

Authors

  • Athanase Benetos,

    1. Geriatric Service, Nancy University Hospital, Nancy, France
    2. Inserm U1116, Faculty of Medicine, Université de Lorraine, Nancy, France
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  • Jeremy D. Kark,

    1. The Hebrew University–Hadassah School of Public Health and Community Medicine, Ein Kerem, Jerusalem, Israel
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  • Ezra Susser,

    1. Department of Epidemiology, Mailman School of Public Health, Columbia University, New York, NY, USA
    2. New York State Psychiatric Institute, New York, NY, USA
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  • Masayuki Kimura,

    1. The Center of Human Development and Aging, University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey, New Jersey Medical School, Newark, NJ, USA
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  • Ronit Sinnreich,

    1. The Hebrew University–Hadassah School of Public Health and Community Medicine, Ein Kerem, Jerusalem, Israel
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  • Wei Chen,

    1. Center for Cardiovascular Health, Tulane University, New Orleans, LA, USA
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  • Troels Steenstrup,

    1. Epidemiology and Statistics Units, Institute of Public Health, Danish Twin Registry and Danish Aging Research Center, University of Southern Denmark, Odense, Denmark
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  • Kaare Christensen,

    1. Epidemiology and Statistics Units, Institute of Public Health, Danish Twin Registry and Danish Aging Research Center, University of Southern Denmark, Odense, Denmark
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  • Utz Herbig,

    1. Department of Microbiology and Molecular Genetics, University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey, New Jersey Medical School, Newark, NJ, USA
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  • Jacob von Bornemann Hjelmborg,

    1. Epidemiology and Statistics Units, Institute of Public Health, Danish Twin Registry and Danish Aging Research Center, University of Southern Denmark, Odense, Denmark
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  • Sathanur R. Srinivasan,

    1. Center for Cardiovascular Health, Tulane University, New Orleans, LA, USA
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  • Gerald S. Berenson,

    1. Center for Cardiovascular Health, Tulane University, New Orleans, LA, USA
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  • Carlos Labat,

    1. Geriatric Service, Nancy University Hospital, Nancy, France
    2. Inserm U1116, Faculty of Medicine, Université de Lorraine, Nancy, France
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  • Abraham Aviv

    Corresponding author
    1. Department of Epidemiology, Mailman School of Public Health, Columbia University, New York, NY, USA
    2. The Center of Human Development and Aging, University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey, New Jersey Medical School, Newark, NJ, USA
    • Geriatric Service, Nancy University Hospital, Nancy, France
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Correspondence

Abraham Aviv, MD, University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey, New Jersey Medical School, 185 South Orange Ave, Newark, NJ 07103, USA. Tel.: 973 972 5280; fax: 973 972 5576; e-mail: avivab@umdnj.edu

Summary

Short leukocyte telomere length (LTL) is associated with atherosclerosis in adults and diminished survival in the elderly. LTL dynamics are defined by LTL at birth, which is highly variable, and its age-dependent attrition thereafter, which is rapid during the first 20 years of life. We examined whether age-dependent LTL attrition during adulthood can substantially affect individuals' LTL ranking (e.g., longer or shorter LTL) in relation to their peers. We measured LTL in samples donated 12 years apart on average by 1156 participants in four longitudinal studies. We observed correlations of 0.91–0.96 between baseline and follow-up LTLs. Ranking individuals by deciles revealed that 94.1% (95% confidence interval of 92.6–95.4%) showed no rank change or a 1 decile change over time. We conclude that in adults, LTL is virtually anchored to a given rank with the passage of time. Accordingly, the links of LTL with atherosclerosis and longevity appear to be established early in life. It is unlikely that lifestyle and its modification during adulthood exert a major impact on LTL ranking.

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