Telomere length attrition and chronic periodontitis: an ARIC Study nested case-control study

J Clin Periodontol. 2015 Jan;42(1):12-20. doi: 10.1111/jcpe.12337. Epub 2014 Dec 26.


Aim: This nested case-control study sought to determine whether an accelerated rate of leukocyte telomere length (LTL) shortening over 6 years was associated with chronic periodontitis.

Materials and methods: We sampled cases (n = 178) with severe chronic periodontitis and controls (n = 178) with no/mild chronic periodontitis from the Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities study. Controls were frequency-matched to cases by study site, age, sex and race. Age ranged from 53 to 73 years. Severe chronic periodontitis was defined using the CDC-AAP case classification. LTL was measured from DNA collected at two time points, 6 years apart, with quantitative polymerase chain reaction relative to a single-copy control gene. Multiple linear regression evaluated associations between LTL measured at baseline, follow-up and change scores with severe chronic periodontitis, adjusting for potential confounders.

Results: Cases had shorter LTL than controls at baseline (p = 0.03) and follow-up (p = 0.04) after adjusting for confounding. Overall there was a net reduction in LTL over time (p = 0.02). The rate of LTL did not differ between cases and controls (p = 0.80).

Conclusions: Leukocyte telomere length shortening occurred at the same rate among adults with and without severe chronic periodontitis. This suggests that LTL shortening may have occurred earlier in the life course.

Keywords: cell ageing; epidemiology; health status disparities; oral health; telomere shortening.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • African Americans
  • Aged
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Chronic Periodontitis / pathology
  • Chronic Periodontitis / physiopathology*
  • Cohort Studies
  • DNA / analysis
  • Diabetes Complications
  • Educational Status
  • European Continental Ancestry Group
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Hypertension / complications
  • Income
  • Leukocytes / ultrastructure*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Obesity / complications
  • Prospective Studies
  • Protein-Serine-Threonine Kinases / analysis
  • Ribosomal Proteins / analysis
  • Sex Factors
  • Smoking
  • Telomere Shortening / physiology*
  • Tooth Loss / complications


  • Ribosomal Proteins
  • ribosomal protein P0
  • DNA
  • Protein-Serine-Threonine Kinases