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.