Leukocyte telomere length in a population-based case-control study of ovarian cancer: a pilot study

Cancer Causes Control. 2010 Jan;21(1):77-82. doi: 10.1007/s10552-009-9436-6. Epub 2009 Sep 27.


Objectives: Telomeres are structures at chromosome ends that contribute to maintaining genomic integrity. Telomere shortening with repeated cell divisions may lead to genomic instability and carcinogenesis. Studies suggest that shorter telomeres in constitutional DNA are associated with bladder, breast, lung, and renal cancer. Ovarian cancer tissues also have shortened telomeres and increased telomerase activity, suggesting that telomere abnormalities may be related to ovarian cancer.

Methods: We investigated leukocyte telomere length in 99 women with serous ovarian adenocarcinoma and 100 age-matched cancer-free controls enrolled in a population-based case-control study.

Results: Cases tended to have shorter telomeres than controls (P (wilcoxon) = 0.002). Compared to subjects with telomere lengths in the longest tertile, those in the middle and shortest tertiles showed respective age-adjusted odds ratios (95% confidence intervals) of 2.69 (1.23-5.88) and 3.39 (1.54-7.46) (P (trend) = 0.002). Strongest associations were found for subjects with poorly differentiated carcinomas (OR = 4.89, 95% CI 1.93-12.34).

Conclusions: This study shows that short leukocyte telomeres are associated with serous ovarian adenocarcinoma. These findings should be confirmed in large, prospective studies.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Intramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Case-Control Studies
  • Female
  • Genetic Predisposition to Disease
  • Humans
  • Leukocytes / metabolism*
  • Middle Aged
  • Ovarian Neoplasms / genetics*
  • Pilot Projects
  • Risk Factors
  • Telomere / chemistry
  • Telomere / metabolism*