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Stress responsive biochemical anabolic/catabolic ratio and telomere length in older adults.

Authors: Sarinnapha S. Vasunilashorn, Alan A AA. Cohen
Published: 10/25/2014, Biodemography and social biology


It has been hypothesized that chronic psychological stress is associated with shorter telomere length; however, the mechanisms that link stress and telomere length are not well understood. To examine the interplay between biochemical factors related to stress arousal and cellular aging, we investigate the association between anabolic/catabolic (A/C) imbalance and leukocyte telomere length (LTL) in the Social Environment and Biomarkers of Aging Study (SEBAS), conducted in Taiwan (N = 925). SEBAS participants aged 54 and older (mean age 68.3) with values for two anabolic hormones (serum dehydroepiandrosterone sulfate [DHEAS] and insulin growth factor [IGF]-1), four catabolic hormones (cortisol, epinephrine, norepinephrine, and interleukin-6 [IL-6]), and LTL were examined. We found that high IL-6 was associated with short LTL (≤ 0.88 T/S ratio; odds ratio [OR] 1.41, 95% confidence interval [CI] = 1.04-1.92). Neither DHEAS/cortisol nor IGF-1/cortisol ratio was associated with telomere length; however, a high A/C imbalance summary score was associated with greater odds of having a short LTL relative to long LTL (OR 1.19, 95% CI = 1.05-1.35). These results indicate that our A/C imbalance score, defined by several anabolic and catabolic biochemical factors, may be one mechanism through which psychological stress is associated with short LTL and possibly cellular senescence.

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