Aim: The aim of this study was to determine the associations of telomere length to markers of obesity, insulin resistance and inflammation in Saudi children.
Methods: A total of 69 boys and 79 girls, aged 5–12 years, participated in this cross-sectional study. Anthropometrics were measured. Serum glucose and lipid profile were measured using routine laboratory methods. Serum insulin, leptin, adiponectin, resistin, tumour necrosis factor-alpha and active plasminogen activator inhibitor 1 were quantified using customized multiplex assay kits. C-reactive protein and angiotensin II were quantified using ELISA. Leucocyte telomere length was examined by quantitative real time PCR utilizing IQ cycler.
Results: Mean telomere length was significantly shorter in obese boys compared with their lean counterparts (p = 0.049), not in girls. It was not associated to insulin resistance, adipocytokines and markers of inflammation. In girls, the significant predictor of telomere length was waist circumference, explaining 24% of variance (p = 0.041) while in boys, systolic blood pressure explained 84% of the variance (p = 0.01).
Conclusion: Childhood obesity in boys corresponds to shorter leucocyte telomere length which is not evident in girls. The association of leucocyte telomere length to blood pressure and waist circumference in children suggests clinical implications as to the contribution of these parameters in premature ageing.