Metabolic profiles of biological aging in American Indians: the Strong Heart Family Study

Aging (Albany NY). 2014 Mar;6(3):176-86. doi: 10.18632/aging.100644.


Short telomere length, a marker of biological aging, has been associated with age-related metabolic disorders. Telomere attrition induces profound metabolic dysfunction in animal models, but no study has examined the metabolome of telomeric aging in human. Here we studied 423 apparently healthy American Indians participating in the Strong Family Heart Study. Leukocyte telomere length (LTL) was measured by qPCR. Metabolites in fasting plasma were detected by untargeted LC/MS. Associations of LTL with each metabolite and their combined effects were examined using generalized estimating equation adjusting for chronological age and other aging-related factors. Multiple testing was corrected using the q-value method (q<0.05). Of the 1,364 distinct m/z features detected, nineteen metabolites in the classes of glycerophosphoethanolamines, glycerophosphocholines, glycerolipids, bile acids, isoprenoids, fatty amides, or L-carnitine ester were significantly associated with LTL, independent of chronological age and other aging-related factors. Participants with longer (top tertile) and shorter (bottom tertile) LTL were clearly separated into distinct groups using a multi-marker score comprising of all these metabolites, suggesting that these newly detected metabolites could be novel metabolic markers of biological aging. This is the first study to interrogate the human metabolome of telomeric aging. Our results provide initial evidence for a metabolic control of LTL and may reveal previously undescribed new roles of various lipids in the aging process.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Aging / genetics*
  • Aging / metabolism*
  • Biomarkers / metabolism
  • Female
  • Heart Diseases / genetics*
  • Heart Diseases / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Indians, North American / genetics*
  • Leukocytes / metabolism
  • Male
  • Metabolome / genetics*
  • Middle Aged
  • Telomere / genetics
  • Telomere Homeostasis / genetics
  • Young Adult


  • Biomarkers