Short telomere length is associated with renal impairment in Japanese subjects with cardiovascular risk

PLoS One. 2017 Apr 25;12(4):e0176138. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0176138. eCollection 2017.


Introduction: Short telomere length has been suggested to be associated with atherosclerotic changes in Western populations. We examined the relationships between leukocyte telomere length and cardiovascular and renal function in a Japanese cohort.

Participants and methods: We enrolled 770 subjects who each had at least one cardiovascular risk factor. The mean age was 59.5 ± 12.2 years; mean BMI was 25.1 ± 4.6 kg/m2. We measured leukocyte telomere length (LTL) by quantitative PCR (T/S ratio), and measured other biomarkers from blood and urine samples. In addition, we assessed surrogate markers of arterial stiffness, cardiovascular organ damage and kidney function, including flow-mediated vasodilation (FMD), pulse wave velocity (PWV), carotid artery augmentation index (CAAI), and urinary albumin creatinine ratio (UACR) and eGFR.

Results: Leukocyte telomere length (T/S ratio) was inversely associated with age (r = -0.194, P<0.001), and was lower in men (1.13 ± 0.29%) than in women (1.20 ± 0.31%, P = 0.002). T/S ratio was positively associated with BMI in women (r = 0.11, P = 0.047), but not in men. LTL did not show a significant relationship to cardiovascular surrogate markers, including arterial stiffness, FMD, and PWV, but did show some relationship to CAAI, which was inversely associated with T/S ratio only in men (r = -0.159, P = 0.015). LTL did show a significant positive association with renal function measured by eGFR (r = 0.16, P<0.001) both in men and women.

Conclusions: In this Japanese sample of persons with increased cardiovascular risk, telomere length showed a relationship of longer telomere length to better renal function, but did not overall show convincing association with cardiovascular measures of arterial stiffness and target organ damage.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / etiology*
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / physiopathology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Japan
  • Kidney / physiopathology*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Pulse Wave Analysis
  • Risk Factors
  • Telomere*
  • Vascular Stiffness / physiology*

Grant support

This work was supported by JSPS KAKENHI Grant Number JP 22590793, Grant-in-Aid for Scientific Research (C) from 2010 to 2013.