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Telomere length and ischaemic stroke in women: a nested case–control study

Authors

  • M. Schürks,

    1. Division of Preventive Medicine, Department of Medicine, Brigham and Women's Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA, USA
    2. Department of Neurology, University Hospital, Essen, Germany
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  • J. Prescott,

    1. Channing Division of Network Medicine, Department of Medicine, Brigham and Women's Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA, USA
    2. Program in Molecular and Genetic Epidemiology, Department of Epidemiology, Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, MA, USA
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  • R. Dushkes,

    1. Division of Preventive Medicine, Department of Medicine, Brigham and Women's Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA, USA
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  • I. De Vivo,

    1. Channing Division of Network Medicine, Department of Medicine, Brigham and Women's Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA, USA
    2. Program in Molecular and Genetic Epidemiology, Department of Epidemiology, Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, MA, USA
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  • K. M. Rexrode

    Corresponding author
    1. Division of Preventive Medicine, Department of Medicine, Brigham and Women's Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA, USA
    • Correspondence: K. M. Rexrode, Division of Preventive Medicine, Brigham and Women's Hospital, 900 Commonwealth Avenue East, 3rd fl, Boston, MA 02215-1204, USA (tel.: +617 278 0834; fax: +617 731 3843; e-mail: krexrode@partners.org).

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Abstract

Background and purpose

Telomere shortening has been implicated in cardiovascular disease (CVD). However, prospective data on the association between relative telomere length (RTL) and ischaemic stroke are scarce and inconclusive.

Methods

We used a nested case–control design among women participating in the prospective Nurses' Health Study. Participants provided blood samples in 1990 and were followed till 2006. Women with confirmed incident ischaemic stroke were matched to controls by age, smoking, postmenopausal status and postmenopausal hormone use. Quantitative polymerase chain reaction was used to determine RTL in genomic DNA extracted from peripheral blood leukocytes. Conditional logistic regression was used to determine the risk of ischaemic stroke associated with RTL, using RTL quartiles and as dichotomous according to the median.

Results

Data on RTL were available from 504 case–control pairs. Results did not suggest an association between RTL and ischaemic stroke. The odds ratio (OR) for ischaemic stroke was 0.82 [95% confidence interval (CI) 0.52–1.32] comparing lowest with the highest RTL quartile and 0.90 (95% CI 0.65–1.24) comparing RTL below the median with RTL above the median. Associations were unchanged after additional adjustment for cardiovascular risk factors. Further analyses suggested an association between RTL and fatal ischaemic stroke (54 case–control pairs; lowest versus highest quartile OR = 1.99, 95%CI 0.26–14.9); however, results were statistically insignificant.

Conclusion

In this large nested case–control study among women RTL was not associated with ischaemic stroke. In light of the varying study results in the literature on the association between telomere length and stroke, additional research is warranted.

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