Multiple studies have demonstrated that telomere length predicts mortality and that telomeres shorten with age. Although rarely acknowledged these associations do not dictate causality. I review telomerase knockout and overexpression studies and find little support that telomeres cause aging. In addition, the causality hypothesis assumes that there is a critical telomere length at which senescence is induced. This generates the prediction that variance in telomere length decreases with age. In contrast, using meta-analysis of human data, I find no such decline. Inferring the causal involvement of telomeres in aging from current knowledge is therefore speculative and could hinder scientific progress.
Keywords: Epidemiology; Human; Meta-analysis; Mortality; Senescence; Telomere length.
Copyright © 2015 The Author. Published by Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.