Advances in optical assays for detecting telomerase activity

Luminescence. 2019 Mar;34(2):136-152. doi: 10.1002/bio.3595. Epub 2019 Jan 31.


Telomerase uses its RNA as template and its protein unit as reverse transcriptase to synthesize TTAGGG repeats at the ends of the eukaryotic chromosome to maintain the lengths of telomeres. Telomerase activity up-regulates in about 85% of human tumors compared with somatic cells, which indicates that telomerase is a tumor biomarker. Reliable assay of telomerase activity is thus essential in diagnosis and management of malignant tumors. In this review, recent developed optical assays are summarized based on the readout signal, including chemiluminescence assay, colorimetric assay, and fluorescence assay.

Keywords: chemiluminescence; colorimetry; fluorescence; optical assay; telomerase activity.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Biomarkers, Tumor / analysis*
  • Biomarkers, Tumor / metabolism
  • Colorimetry
  • Humans
  • Neoplasms / diagnostic imaging*
  • Neoplasms / enzymology
  • Neoplasms / metabolism
  • Optical Imaging*
  • Spectrometry, Fluorescence
  • Telomerase / analysis*
  • Telomerase / metabolism


  • Biomarkers, Tumor
  • Telomerase