Accelerated telomere shortening has been associated with several age-related diseases and/or decreased lifespan in humans. The Mediterranean diet (MedDiet) is considered to be 1 of the most recognized diets for disease prevention and healthy aging, partially due to its demonstrated anti-inflammatory and antioxidative properties which may impact on telomere length (TL). The aim of this meta-analysis was to determine the associations between MedDiet adherence and TL maintenance. MEDLINE-PubMed and Cochrane databases were searched up to December 2018 for studies evaluating the association between MedDiet adherence and TL in blood cells. Two reviewers, working independently, screened all titles and abstracts to identify studies that met the inclusion criteria [cross-sectional, case-control, and prospective cohort studies and randomized clinical trials (RCTs) published in English and excluded nonoriginal articles]. Data were pooled by the generic inverse variance method using the random effects model and expressed as standardized mean difference (SMD). Heterogeneity was identified using the Cochran Q test and quantified by the I2 statistic. A total of 8 original cross-sectional studies were included for the quantitative meta-analysis, comprising a total of 13,733 participants from 5 countries. A positive association between adherence to the MedDiet and TL was observed in all meta-analyses, with the exception of those conducted only in men: SMD (95% CI) of 0.130 (0.029; 0.231) for all subjects, 0.078 (0.005; 0.152) for women, and 0.095 (-0.005; 0.195) for men. Only 1 prospective cohort study and 1 RCT were identified, therefore, we could not undertake a meta-analysis for these study designs. The present meta-analysis of cross-sectional studies demonstrates that higher MedDiet adherence is associated with longer TL. At the same time, larger and high-quality prospective studies and clinical trials are warranted to confirm this association.
Keywords: Mediterranean diet; accelerated telomere shortening; age-associated diseases; dietary pattern; healthy aging; telomere length.
Copyright © The Author(s) on behalf of the American Society for Nutrition 2020.