Telomere Length as a Biomarker for Race-Related Health Disparities

Genes (Basel). 2021 Jan 9;12(1):78. doi: 10.3390/genes12010078.


Disparities between the races have been well documented in health and disease in the USA. Recent studies show that telomere length, a marker of aging, is associated with obesity and obesity-related diseases, such as heart disease and diabetes. The current study aimed to evaluate the connection between telomere length ratio, blood pressure, and childhood obesity. The telomere length ratio was measured in 127 children from both European American (EA) and African American (AA) children, aged 6-10 years old. AA children had a significantly high relative telomere to the single copy gene (T/S) ratio compared to EA children. There was no significant difference in the T/S ratio between normal weight (NW) and overweight/obese (OW/OB) groups of either race. Blood pressure was significantly elevated in AA children with respect to EA children. Hierarchical regression analysis adjusted for race, gender, and age expressed a significant relationship between the T/S ratio and diastolic pressure. Low T/S ratio participants showed a significant increase in systolic pressure, while a high T/S ratio group showed an increase in diastolic pressure and heart rate of AA children. In conclusion, our findings show that AA children have high T/S ratio compared to EA children. The high T/S ratio is negatively associated with diastolic pressure.

Keywords: blood pressure; health disparities; race; telomere length.

Publication types

  • Observational Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • African Americans / genetics
  • African Americans / statistics & numerical data
  • Blood Pressure / genetics
  • Blood Pressure Determination / statistics & numerical data
  • Child
  • European Continental Ancestry Group / genetics
  • European Continental Ancestry Group / statistics & numerical data
  • Female
  • Health Status Disparities*
  • Heart Rate / genetics
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Pediatric Obesity / epidemiology
  • Pediatric Obesity / genetics*
  • Telomere / metabolism*
  • Telomere Homeostasis / genetics*