Patients with acromegaly exhibit reduced life expectancy and increased prevalence of age-related diseases, such as diabetes, hypertension, and cardiovascular disease. However, the underlying mechanism has not been fully elucidated. Telomere shortening is reportedly associated with reduced life expectancy and increased prevalence of these age-related diseases.
We measured telomere length in patients with acromegaly using quantitative PCR method. The effect of GH and IGF-I on telomere length and cellular senescence was examined in human skin fibroblasts.
Patients with acromegaly exhibited shorter telomere length than age-, sex-, smoking-, and diabetes-matched control patients with non-functioning pituitary adenoma (0.62 ± 0.23 vs. 0.75 ± 0.35, respectively, P = 0.047). In addition, telomere length in acromegaly was negatively correlated with the disease duration (R2 = 0.210, P = 0.003). In vitro analysis revealed that not GH but IGF-I induced telomere shortening in human skin fibroblasts. Furthermore, IGF-I-treated cells showed increased senescence-associated β-galactosidase activity and expression of p53 and p21 protein. IGF-I-treated cells reached the Hayflick limit earlier than GH- or vehicle-treated cells, indicating that IGF-I induces cellular senescence.
Shortened telomeres in acromegaly and cellular senescence induced by IGF-I can explain, in part, the underlying mechanisms by which acromegaly exhibits an increased morbidity and mortality in association with the excess secretion of IGF-I.