Objectives: Telomeres are important structures that are critical for maintaining chromosomal integrity and cell surveillance. The aim of this study was to analyze telomere length in patients with celiac disease (CD), a multifactorial disorder with a strong genetic component that exhibits genomic instability and cancer predisposition, particularly T-cell lymphomas.
Methods: Telomere length measured by telomere restriction fragments (TRF) was studied in small intestinal biopsy (SIB) samples and peripheral blood lymphocytes (PBL) from 20 untreated CD patients, distributed according to the clinical form as four asymptomatic, five monosymptomatic, and 11 polysymptomatic individuals. We also analyzed TRF from normal peripheral blood lymphocytes and normal biopsy samples as normal controls.
Results: TRF evaluation showed a significant telomere shortening in SIB samples from CD patients (4.21 +/- 0.29 Kb) compared to PBL from the same individuals (9.17 +/- 0.35 Kb) (p < 0.0001), independently of clinical form. Mean TRF peak values from normal biopsy samples were significantly higher (8.33 +/- 0.38 Kb) than those observed in CD biopsy samples (p < 0.001). No differences between TRF values in CD-PBL and normal peripheral blood lymphocytes (8.89 +/- 0.37Kb) were found.
Conclusions: Our findings in patients with CD, a disorder in which the gluten-induced mucosal injury could accelerate telomere shortening, would increase the process of end-to-end fusions resulting in chromosomal changes, supports the hypothesis that genomic instability and telomere reduction may play a role in the cancer predisposition observed in these patients.