Background: Diagonal earlobe crease (ELC) have been proposed as a marker of generalized atherosclerosis, so in the present study it was investigated whether individuals with ELC have a shortened telomere, which correlates with an accelerated cell turnover and premature aging, leading to atherosclerosis.
Methods and results: The mean terminal restriction fragment (TRF) was determined by Southern blot hybridization in the peripheral blood cells of 34 male Japanese patients with metabolic syndrome (MetS) who were under 70 years of age with (n=17) and without (n=17) bilateral ELC, and assessed the relationship of ELC to atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease (AVD). The results showed that the TRF was shorter in the MetS patients with ELC in comparison to age- and risk-factor-matched MetS patients without ELC (7.6+/-1.1 kbp vs 8.6+/-1.2 kbp; P<0.05). ELC were present in 13 patients in the AVD group (n=18), but only 4 patients in the non-AVD group (n=16) had ELC (72.2% and 25% respectively; P<0.05).
Conclusions: These findings suggest that ELC is a useful dermatological indicator of an accelerated aging process, as suggested by excessive telomere loss, and might be a useful indirect marker of high-risk patients.