Telomeres and lifestyle factors: roles in cellular aging

Mutat Res. 2012 Feb 1;730(1-2):85-9. doi: 10.1016/j.mrfmmm.2011.08.003. Epub 2011 Aug 22.


Recent research has demonstrated that telomere maintenance might be a key integrating point for the cumulative effects of genetic, environmental and lifestyle factors on aging and aging-related diseases. It is timely to 'take stock' of where this work has led the field. This review summarizes studies that have examined associations between lifestyle factors and telomere length and telomerase activity. In most of the studies described in this chapter, telomere length was measured in leukocytes (LTL) or peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs), taken from blood draws from the study subjects. Much of this chapter focuses on psychological stress, a widespread factor often intimately tied in with lifestyle or behavioral factors that in turn are related to risks of clinical diseases. Together, these findings suggest that cellular aging is linked to a range of influences, with an individual's life events and lifestyle parameters playing significant roles. Lastly, we propose possible biochemical mechanisms that mediate these associations and discuss future directions.

MeSH terms

  • Aging / genetics
  • Cellular Senescence / genetics*
  • Diet
  • Humans
  • Leukocytes / ultrastructure
  • Life Style*
  • Stress, Psychological / genetics*
  • Stress, Psychological / metabolism
  • Telomere / genetics*
  • Telomere Homeostasis*
  • Temperament