School of Hygiene and Public Health of the Johns Hopkins University
American Journal of Epidemiology vol:172 issue:4 pages:440-450
Experimental studies have implicated telomere dynamics in cardiomyocyte size and replication potential; shorter telomeres mark attenuated proliferation and increased apoptosis. The authors examined whether this translates into an impact of telomere length (TL) on left ventricular (LV) mass in the general population. In 334 randomly selected Flemish participants (mean age = 46.5 years; 52.5% women), they measured TL in circulating leukocytes using quantitative polymerase chain reaction, expressing it as telomere/genomic DNA ratio (T/S). After a median 7.4 years of follow-up (interquartile range, 6.2-8.5) during 1996-2007, they measured LV mass by echocardiography. In multivariable-adjusted analyses accounting for sex, age, body weight and height, systolic blood pressure, and antihypertensive drug use, LV mass and LV mass index significantly increased with mean leukocyte TL in the entire population and in the 198 normotensive subjects. For a 1-standard-deviation increment in T/S ratio, LV mass (mean = 170 g) and LV mass index (mean = 92 g/m(2)) increased by 5.20 g (P = 0.003) and 2.70 g/m(2) (P = 0.004), respectively, in all subjects and by 8.03 g (P = 0.0001) and 3.74 g/m(2) (P = 0.0007) in normotensive subjects. There were corresponding associations with LV wall thicknesses (P < 0.007) but not LV internal diameter (P = 0.26) in normotensive subjects. Longer mean leukocyte TL is associated with increased LV mass, particularly in normotensive subjects. This association could have a biologic basis related to the role of TL in determining cardiomyocyte size and replication potential.