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Shortened telomere length in patients with depression: A meta-analytic study.

Authors: Pao-Yen PY. Lin, Yu-Chi YC. Huang, Chi-Fa CF. Hung
Published: 02/04/2016, Journal of psychiatric research


Accelerated telomere shortening is associated with stress-related cell damage and aging. Patients with depression have been shown to have shortened life expectancy and to be associated with multiple age-related systemic diseases. Previous studies have examined leukocyte telomere length (LTL) in patients with depression, but have shown inconsistent results.


We conducted meta-analyses by pooling relevant results strictly from all eligible case-control studies for cross-sectional comparison of LTL between depressive patients and control subjects (16 studies involving 7207 subjects). The effect sizes (shown as Hedges' g) of each individual study were synthesized by using a random effects model.


Our analysis revealed telomere length is significantly shorter in subjects with depression in comparison to healthy controls (Hedges' g = -0.42, p = 1 × 10(-5), corresponding to r = -0.21). Significant heterogeneity among studies examining LTL in subjects with depression was found (Q = 116.07, df = 16, I(2) = 86.21%, p < 1 × 10(-8)), which can possibly be explained by methods used in measuring telomere length (Q = 18.42, df = 2, p = 1 × 10(-4)). There was no significant publication bias, nor moderating effect of age, female percentage, or illness duration of depression on synthesized results.


Our results support the hypothesis that depression is associated with accelerated cell aging. Future studies are required to clarify whether the association is mediated through environmental stress, and whether effective treatment can halt cell aging.

Copyright © 2016 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
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