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Telomere attrition and aging

Posted by CeliaMRoss on 16 Dec 2015 at 12:53 GMT

Smeets, Codd, Samani, and Hokken-Koelega (2015) present some fascinating findings on the apparent effect of preterm birth on telomere length (1). They point to the cumulative progression toward cell senescence as being a possible factor in later life effects of preterm birth. However, these results also bring to mind the work of Robin, et al. (2014) where they found that chromosomal looping, which brings telomere ends toward certain genes, might influence gene expression and that when telomeres are shorter, they might not be able to reach these genes to influence their expression (2). This indicates that telomere attrition might play a role in disease processes long before cell senescence becomes a factor. The implication of this is that life stresses, such as preterm birth or perhaps other stresses, which accelerate telomere attrition, might lead to increased risk of the diseases of aging even before cell senescence factors in.

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(1) Smeets CC, Codd V, Samani NJ, Hokken-Koelega AC. (2015) Leukocyte Telomere Length in Young Adults Born Preterm: Support for Accelerated Biological Ageing. PLoS One. 10(11):e0143951.
(2) Robin JD, et al. Telomere position effect: regulation of gene expression with progressive telomere shortening over long distances. (2014). Genes & Development. 28(22):2464-76.

Competing interests declared: I write about health topics