Long telomeres in blood leukocytes are associated with a high risk of ascending aortic aneurysm

PLoS One. 2012;7(11):e50828. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0050828. Epub 2012 Nov 29.

Abstract

Ascending aortic aneurysm is a connective tissue disorder. Even though multiple novel gene mutations have been identified, risk profiling and diagnosis before rupture still represent a challenge. There are studies demonstrating shorter telomere lengths in the blood leukocytes of abdominal aortic aneurysm patients. The aim of this study was to measure whether relative telomere lengths are changed in the blood leukocytes of ascending aortic aneurysm patients. We also studied the expression of telomerase in aortic tissue samples of ascending aortic aneurysms. Relative lengths of leukocyte telomeres were determined from blood samples of patients with ascending aortic aneurysms and compared with healthy controls. Telomerase expression, both at the level of mRNA and protein, was quantified from the aortic tissue samples. Mean relative telomere length was significantly longer in ascending aortic aneurysm blood samples compared with controls (T/S ratio 0.87 vs. 0.61, p<0.001). Expressions of telomerase mRNA and protein were elevated in the aortic aneurysm samples (p<0.05 and p<0.01). Our study reveals a significant difference in the mean length of blood leukocyte telomeres in ascending aortic aneurysm and controls. Furthermore, expression of telomerase, the main compensating factor for telomere loss, is elevated at both the mRNA and protein level in the samples of aneurysmal aorta. Further studies will be needed to confirm if this change in telomere length can serve as a tool for assessing the risk of ascending aortic aneurysm.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aortic Aneurysm / genetics*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Leukocytes / metabolism*
  • Logistic Models
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Risk Factors
  • Telomere / genetics*

Grant support

These authors have no support or funding to report.