Short Telomere Length Is Related to Limitations in Physical Function in Elderly European Adults.

Author: Montiel Rojas D1, Nilsson A1, Ponsot E1, Brummer RJ1, Fairweather-Tait S2, Jennings A2, de Groot LCPGM3, Berendsen A3, Pietruszka B4, Madej D4, Caumon E5, Meunier N5, Malpuech-Brugère C6, Guidarelli G7, Santoro A7,8, Franceschi C9, Kadi F1
Author Information:
1School of Health Sciences, Örebro University, Örebro, Sweden.
2Norwich Medical School, University of East Anglia, Norwich, United Kingdom.
3Department of Human Nutrition, Wageningen University & Research, Wageningen, Netherlands.
4Department of Human Nutrition, Warsaw University of Life Sciences, Warsaw, Poland.
5Centre Hospitalier Universitaire de Clermont-Ferrand, Centre de Recherche en Nutrition Humaine d'Auvergne, Clermont-Ferrand, France.
6Unité de Nutrition Humaine, Institut National de la Recherche Agronomique, Centre de Recherche en Nutrition Humaine d'Auvergne, Université Clermont Auvergne, Clermont-Ferrand, France.
7Department of Experimental, Diagnostic and Specialty Medicine, University of Bologna, Bologna, Italy.
8Interdepartmental Center "L. Galvani" (CIG), University of Bologna, Bologna, Italy.
9Bellaria Hospital, Institute of Neurological Sciences, University of Bologna, Bologna, Italy.
Conference/Journal: Front Physiol.
Date published: 2018 Aug 10
Other: Volume ID: 9 , Pages: 1110 , Special Notes: doi: 10.3389/fphys.2018.01110. eCollection 2018. , Word Count: 287


The present study aims to explore the potential influence of leucocyte telomere length (LTL) on both a single indicator and a composite construct of physical functioning in a large European population of elderly men and women across diverse geographical locations. A total of 1,221 adults (65-79 years) were recruited from five European countries within the framework of NU-AGE study. The physical functioning construct was based on the 36-item Short Form Health Survey. Handgrip strength was used as a single indicator of muscle function and LTL was assessed using quantitative real-time PCR. Women had significantly longer (p < 0.05) LTL than men. Participants in Poland had significantly shorter LTL than in the other study centers, whereas participants in the Netherlands had significantly longer LTL than most of the other centers (p < 0.01). An analysis of LTL as a continuous outcome against physical functioning by using linear models revealed inconsistent findings. In contrast, based on an analysis of contrasting telomere lengths (first vs. fifth quintile of LTL), a significant odds ratio (OR) of 1.7 (95% CI: 1.1 - 2.6; p < 0.05) of having functional limitation was observed in those belonging to the first LTL quintile compared to the fifth. Interestingly, having the shortest LTL was still related to a higher likelihood of having physical limitation when compared to all remaining quintiles (OR: 1.5, 95% CI: 1.1 - 2.1; p < 0.05), even after adjustment by study center, age, sex, and overweight status. Collectively, our findings suggest that short LTL is an independent risk factor that accounts for functional decline in elderly European populations. The influence of LTL on functional limitation seems driven by the detrimental effect of having short telomeres rather than reflecting a linear dose-response relationship.

KEYWORDS: SF-36; aging; ethnicity; handgrip strength; physical function

PMID: 30147659 PMCID: PMC6096049 DOI: 10.3389/fphys.2018.01110

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