Background: Systemic telomere length has been associated with measures of diastolic function, vascular stiffness and left ventricular mass mainly in smaller, patient-specific settings and not in a general population. In this study we describe the applicability of these findings in a large, representative population.
Methods and results: Peripheral blood leukocyte telomere length (PBL TL) was measured using telomere restriction fragment analysis in the young to middle-aged (>2500 volunteers, ∼35 to 55 years old) Asklepios study population, free from overt cardiovascular disease. Subjects underwent extensive echocardiographic, hemodynamic and biochemical phenotyping. After adjusting for relevant confounders (age, sex, systolic blood pressure, heart rate, body mass index and use of antihypertensive drugs) we found no associations between PBL TL and left ventricular mass index (P = 0.943), ejection fraction (P = 0.933), peak systolic septal annular motion (P = 0.238), pulse wave velocity (P = 0.971) or pulse pressure (P = 0.999). In contrast, our data showed positive associations between PBL TL and parameters of LV filling: the transmitral flow early (E) to late (A) velocity ratio (E/A-ratio; P<0.001), the ratio of early (e') to late (a') mitral annular velocities (e'/a'-ratio; P = 0.012) and isovolumic relaxation time (P = 0.015). Interestingly, these associations were stronger in women than in men and were driven by associations between PBL TL and the late diastolic components (A and a').
Conclusions: In a generally healthy, young to middle-aged population, PBL TL is not related to LV mass or systolic function, but might be associated with an altered LV filling pattern, especially in women.