Telomere length and obesity


Raffaella Zannolli, M.D., Ph.D., Department of
Pediatrics, Obstetrics and Reproductive Medicine,
Section of Pediatrics, Policlinico Le Scotte,
University of Siena, Siena, Italy.
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Aim: To assess the telomere length in apparently healthy obese and normal-weight subjects.

Methods: Seventy-six Caucasian subjects were chosen including 53 children (age 8.2 ± 3.5 years) and 23 adults (age 40.5 ± 8.4 years). Among these, 22 (12 children and 10 adults) were obese with a body mass index (BMI, kg/m2) > 2 SD above the norm. Bioelectrical impedance analysis (BIA), measured with a multiple frequency analyzer, was used to estimate body composition. DNA extraction from white blood cells was used to estimate the telomere length by detection of terminal restriction fragments (TRF).

Results: No difference was found between the TRF lengths of obese and normal children. Obese adults had shorter TRF lengths than adults who were not obese (mean TRF length difference, −884.5; 95% confidence intervals −1727 to −41.8; t= 2.183; df = 17; p < 0.041).

Conclusions: Obese adults have shorter telomeres than their normal-weight counterparts, while this phenomenon is not present in childhood.