Advancing age is accompanied by an accumulation of ill health and shortening of chromosomal telomeres signifying biological aging. T is metabolized to DHT by 5α-reductase (SRD5A2) and to estradiol (E2) by aromatase (CYP19A1). Telomerase preserves telomeres, and T and E2 regulate telomerase expression and activity in vitro.
The objective of the study was to establish whether circulating T or its metabolites, DHT or E2, and single-nucleotide polymorphisms in SRD5A2 or CYP19A1 associate with leucocyte telomere length (LTL) in men.
Participants And Methods
Early-morning serum T, DHT, and E2 were assayed using mass spectrometry, and SRD5A2 and CYP19A1 single-nucleotide polymorphisms and LTL analyzed by PCR in 980 men from the Western Australian Busselton Health Survey who participated in the study. LTL was expressed as the T/S ratio.
Men were aged (mean ± SD) 53.7 ± 15.6 years. LTL decreased linearly with age, from the T/S ratio of 1.89 ± 0.41 at younger than 30 years to 1.50 ± 0.49 at 70 to younger than 80 years (r = -0.225, P < .0001). After adjustment for age, DHT and E2 were positively correlated with LTL (DHT, r = 0.069, P = .030; E2, r = 0.068, P = .034). The SRD5A2 rs9282858 polymorphism was associated with serum DHT but not with LTL. Three dominant alleles of CYP19A1 were each associated with lower serum E2 and shorter LTL: rs2899470 T (E2, 59.3 vs 68.6 pmol/L, P < .0001; T/S ratio, 1.54 vs 1.62, P = .045), rs10046 C (60.5 vs 68.1 pmol/L, P = .0005, 1.54 vs 1.62, P = .035), and rs700518 A (59.9 vs 68.9 pmol/L, P < .0001, 1.54 vs 1.63, P = .020). A single-copy haplotype C/T/I/A/T rs10046/rs2899470/rs11575899/rs700518/rs17703883 (52% prevalence) was associated with both lower E2 and shorter LTL.
In men, serum DHT and E2 correlate with LTL independently of age. Aromatase gene polymorphisms include three dominant alleles that are associated with both lower serum E2 and shorter LTL. E2 influences telomere length in vivo, thus warranting further studies to examine whether hormonal interventions might slow biological aging in men.