© 2015 The authors.
It is known that glucose disturbances contribute to micro- and macrovascular complications and vascular aging. Telomere length is considered to be a cellular aging biomarker. It is important to determine the telomere length role in vascular structural and functional changes in patients with diabetes mellitus. We conducted a cross-sectional observational study in a high-risk population from Moscow, Russia. The study included 50 patients with diabetes and without clinical cardiovascular disease and 49 control group participants. Glucose metabolism assessment tests, measuring intima-media complex thickness and determining the presence of atherosclerotic plaques, pulse wave velocity measurement, and telomere length measurement were administered to all participants. Vascular changes were more dramatic in patients with diabetes than in the control group, and the telomeres were shorter in patients with diabetes. Significant differences were found in the vascular wall condition among diabetes patients, and there were no substantial differences in the arterial structure between patients with 'long' telomeres; however, there were statistically significant differences in the vascular wall condition between patients with 'short' telomeres. Vascular ageing signs were more prominent in patients with diabetes. However, despite diabetes, vascular changes in patients with long telomeres were very modest and were similar to the vascular walls in healthy individuals. Thus, long lymphocyte telomeres may have a protective effect on the vascular wall and may prevent vascular wall deterioration caused by glucose metabolism disorders.