Telomere length as an indicator of biological aging: the gender effect and relation with pulse pressure and pulse wave velocity

Hypertension. 2001 Feb;37(2 Pt 2):381-5. doi: 10.1161/01.hyp.37.2.381.


Chronological age is the primary determinant of stiffness of central arteries. Increased stiffness is an independent indicator of cardiovascular risk. The aim of this study was to determine whether telomere length, a possible index of biological aging, provides a better account than chronological age for variation in arterial stiffness, evaluated by measuring pulse pressure and aortic pulse wave velocity. The study population included 193 French subjects (120 men, 73 women), with a mean age of 56+/-11 years, who were not on any antihypertensive medications. Telomere length was evaluated in white blood cells by measuring the mean length of the terminal restriction fragments. Age-adjusted telomere length was longer in women than in men (8.67+/-0.09 versus 8.37+/-0.07 kb; P=0.016). In both genders, telomere length was inversely correlated with age (P<0.01). Multivariate analysis showed that in men, but not in women, telomere length significantly contributed to pulse pressure and pulse wave velocity variations. In conclusion, telomere length provides an additional account to chronological age of variations in both pulse pressure and pulse wave velocity among men, such that men with shorter telomere length are more likely to exhibit high pulse pressure and pulse wave velocity, which are indices of large artery stiffness. The longer telomere length in women suggests that for a given chronological age, biological aging of men is more advanced than that of women.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Age Factors
  • Aging*
  • Aortic Diseases / blood
  • Aortic Diseases / diagnosis*
  • Blood Pressure
  • Body Mass Index
  • DNA Restriction Enzymes
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Leukocytes / ultrastructure*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Multivariate Analysis
  • Pulse
  • Sex Factors
  • Telomere / chemistry*
  • Telomere / ultrastructure


  • DNA Restriction Enzymes