Telomere Science Library

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Leukocytes of Exceptionally Old Persons Display Ultra-short Telomeres

Kimura M1, Barbieri M2, Gardner JP1, Skurnick J1, Cao X 1, van Riel N3, Rizzo MR2, Paoliso G3, Aviv A. Am J Physiol Regul Integr Comp Physiol.

With a view to understanding the association between leukocyte telomere length and the human lifespan, we performed genome-wide telomere length analyses by the terminal restriction fragment length (TRFL) and single molecule telomere length analysis (STELA) of the X and Y chromosomes in leukocytes of exceptionally old (aged 90-104 years) and younger (aged 23-74 years) individuals. We found that the mean TRFL of 82 exceptionally old individuals was within a range projected by age-dependent TRFL attrition of 99 younger individuals. However, compared with the younger individuals, exceptionally old persons exhibited peaking of the TRFL distribution with overrepresentation of ultra-short telomeres. These findings were confirmed by the STELA. Women had longer mean TRFL than men (6.10 kb vs. 5.86 kb) and exceptionally old women exhibited fewer ultra-short telomeres than exceptionally old men. Our results have implications for gerontological studies of the limitation of lifespan in humans.

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