Leukocyte telomere length and physical ability among Danish twins age 70+

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

  • Laila Bendix
  • Maria Monrad Gade
  • Pia Wirenfeldt Staun
  • Masayuki Kimura
  • Bernard Jeune
  • Jacob V Hjelmborg
  • Abraham Aviv
  • Kaare Christensen
Leukocyte telomere length (LTL) shortens with age and is potentially a biomarker of human aging.
We examined the relation of LTL with physical ability and cognitive function in 548 same-sex twins from the Longitudinal Study of Aging Danish Twins. LTL was measured by Southern blots of the terminal restriction fragments (TRF). Physical ability was evaluated using a self reported scale of 11 questions, while cognitive function was scored by MMSE and a cognitive composite score sensitive to age-related decline.
A random intercept model revealed a positive, significant association between LTL and physical ability. For every unit increase in physical ability score, LTL increased by 0.066 kb (p = 0.01), equal to approximately three years of age-dependent LTL shortening. A matched case-co-twin design showed that the group consisting of the twins from each pair with the longer LTL also displayed better physical ability (p < 0.01). Moreover, the intra-pair difference in LTL was associated with intra-pair difference in physical ability (p < 0.01), confirming the association. However, we found no association between cognitive function and LTL.
The LTL-physical ability association in the elderly provides further support to the premise that LTL is an index of somatic fitness in the narrow context of human physical health.

Original languageEnglish
JournalMechanisms of Ageing and Development
Issue number11-12
Pages (from-to)568-572
Publication statusPublished - 2011

ID: 37753326