Genetic Determinants of Telomere Length in African American Youth

Sci Rep. 2018 Sep 5;8(1):13265. doi: 10.1038/s41598-018-31238-3.


Telomere length (TL) is associated with numerous disease states and is affected by genetic and environmental factors. However, TL has been mostly studied in adult populations of European or Asian ancestry. These studies have identified 34 TL-associated genetic variants recently used as genetic proxies for TL. The generalizability of these associations to pediatric populations and racially diverse populations, specifically of African ancestry, remains unclear. Furthermore, six novel variants associated with TL in a population of European children have been identified but not validated. We measured TL from whole blood samples of 492 healthy African American youth (children and adolescents between 8 and 20 years old) and performed the first genome-wide association study of TL in this population. We were unable to replicate neither the 34 reported genetic associations found in adults nor the six genetic associations found in European children. However, we discovered a novel genome-wide significant association between TL and rs1483898 on chromosome 14. Our results underscore the importance of examining genetic associations with TL in diverse pediatric populations such as African Americans.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Asian People / genetics
  • Black or African American / genetics*
  • Child
  • Female
  • Genetic Predisposition to Disease / genetics
  • Genetic Variation / genetics
  • Genome-Wide Association Study
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Polymorphism, Single Nucleotide / genetics
  • Telomere / genetics*
  • Telomere / physiology
  • Telomere Homeostasis / genetics*
  • White People / genetics
  • Young Adult