Monday, March 11, 2013

Did you know telomere length is an indication of life expectancy?

Telomere in red, human chromosomes in blue
Reinhard Stindl
In a study presented at the American College of Cardiology's Annual Scientific Session investigators from the Intermountain Heart Institute shared results that indicate that telomere length can predict life expectancy. Telomeres are a region of repetitive sequence that occur on the ends of chromosomes. Their purpose is to protect the ends of the chromosome from damage and have been used as a measure of age due to the fact that telomeres get shorter with age until cell division ceases. This shortening is also correlated with an increase in age related diseases.

In the current study samples from more than 3500 stroke and heart attack patients were employed and showed that if the results are adjusted for age of patients, longer telomere length directly correlated with life expectancy. The study employed the very complete records kept and the extensive follow up data and samples collected by the Intermountain Heart Institute. This allowed                                                                                                                                     them to follow any changes in the length of a patients telomeres over time.

It is hoped that telomere length could be used to measure the effectiveness of treatments along with tests that are currently employed such as cholesterol and blood pressure.