Depression might be associated with accelerated cellular aging. However, does this result in an irreversible state or is the body able to slow down or recover from such a process? Telomeres are DNA-protein complexes that protect the ends of chromosomes and generally shorten with age; and therefore index cellular aging. The majority of studies indicate that persons with depression have shorter leukocyte telomeres than similarly aged non-depressed persons, which may contribute to the observed unfavorable somatic health outcomes in the depressed population. Some small-scale preliminary studies raise the possibility that behavioral or pharmacological interventions may either slow down or else reverse this accelerated telomere shortening, possibly through increasing the activity of the telomere-lengthening enzyme telomerase. This paper covers the current state of evidence in the relationship between depression and the telomere-telomerase system and debates whether depression-related cellular aging should be considered a reversible process or permanent damage.
Keywords: cellular aging; depression; intervention studies; major depressive disorder; telomerase; telomere homeostasis; telomere length.
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