Telomere shortening is associated with increasing age, male gender and lifestyle factors such as obesity and smoking. Inflammation has also been implicated in cellular senescence and may promote telomere shortening in chronic conditions such as obesity and diabetes. However, little is known about the relationship between markers of obesity and inflammation, and leukocyte telomere length (LTL).
LTL was measured using quantitative polymerase chain reaction in peripheral leukocytes from 295 individuals diagnosed with Barrett's esophagus (BE) between 1995 and 2009. Data on lifestyle variables including obesity and smoking were collected at in-person interviews. Biomarkers of obesity (leptin, adiponectin), diabetes (glucose, insulin), inflammation (C-reactive protein, Interleukin-6, surface tumor necrosis factor receptor (sTNFR) I & II) and oxidative stress (F2-isoprostanes) were measured in stored blood samples. We examined associations between these covariates and LTL in a cross-sectional analysis using linear and logistic regression models, adjusting for possible confounders.
LTL was significantly associated with age (r = -0.30, p < 0.001), gender (r = 0.14 for females, p = 0.01) and inversely associated with cigarette pack-years (r = -0.11, p = 0.04). Odds of having short LTL were significantly higher for participants in the highest tertile for sTNF-RI (Odds ratio adjusted for age, gender, smoking, and obesity = 2.19; 95 % CI 1.00-4.85, p-trend = 0.02). LTL was not significantly associated with any other lifestyle factors, including smoking or obesity, or other inflammation-, obesity-/diabetes-related biomarkers measured.
Increasing age, male gender, smoking history, and sTNF-RI levels were associated with short LTL among persons with BE but no correlations were observed between LTL and other inflammatory markers or measures of obesity. Larger longitudinal studies are necessary in order to further establish the potential relationships between obesity, inflammation markers and LTL.