The impact of neighborhood context on telomere length: A systematic review

Health Place. 2022 Mar;74:102746. doi: 10.1016/j.healthplace.2022.102746. Epub 2022 Feb 2.


A growing body of research demonstrates the association between neighborhood context and health. The underlying biological mechanisms of this association are not fully understood. We conducted a systematic review of studies that investigated the association between neighborhood context and telomere length (TL), a DNA-protein complex that shortens after cell division. Short TL is linked to age-related diseases and may be impacted by chronic stress. Nineteen eligible articles identified through PubMed and Scopus met inclusion criteria. Results demonstrated inconsistent support for the relationship between neighborhood disadvantage and short TL. However, findings across several studies provide evidence for an inverse association between perceived neighborhood problems and TL, suggesting that TL may be an important factor in understanding health vulnerabilities associated specifically with negative perceptions of the neighborhood context.

Keywords: Aging; Health disparities; Neighborhood; Psychosocial stress; Social environment; Telomere.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Humans
  • Residence Characteristics
  • Telomere Shortening*
  • Telomere*