Telomere lengths are characteristic in each human individual

Exp Gerontol. 2002 Apr;37(4):523-31. doi: 10.1016/s0531-5565(01)00218-2.


Background: A great deal of attention has been focused on telomeres in relation to cellular aging, immortality, and cancer. However, there is no simple link between telomeres and tissue turnover. We recently proposed a hypothesis that telomere shortening with aging and telomere lengths in different organs are characteristic for human individuals.

Methods: To test this, telomere lengths were measured using DNA from cerebral cortex, myocardium, liver, renal cortex and spleen tissues obtained from human subjects ranging in age from neonates to centenarians.

Results: Regression analyses demonstrated telomere reduction rates of 29-60 base pair (bp) per year in the liver, renal cortex and spleen, but no such decrease in the cerebral cortex and myocardium. Significant correlation was found between tissues within individuals, such as cerebral cortex versus (vs) myocardium, cerebral cortex vs liver, cerebral cortex vs renal cortex, myocardium vs liver, myocardium vs renal cortex, and liver vs renal cortex. In most cases, the longest telomeres were observed in the myocardium and the shortest in the liver or renal cortex.

Conclusions: Telomere lengths did not show clear correlation with tissue renewal times in vivo, but rather were characteristic for individuals.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Blotting, Southern
  • Brain / ultrastructure
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • DNA / analysis
  • Electrophoresis, Gel, Pulsed-Field
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Kidney / ultrastructure
  • Liver / ultrastructure
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Myocardium / ultrastructure
  • Regression Analysis
  • Telomere*


  • DNA