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Telomere length and anaemia in old age: results from the Newcastle 85-plus Study* and the Leiden 85-plus Study

Lookup NU author(s): Wendy den Elzen, Dr Carmen Martin-RuizORCiD, Professor Thomas von Zglinicki, Emeritus Professor Thomas Kirkwood


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Background: reduced telomere length in blood cells has been associated with increased risk of multiple age-related diseases and is widely regarded as a general biomarker of ageing. Therefore, it is important to know both the extent and limitations of this association. We investigated the relation between telomere length and anaemia in two independent cohorts, with the prior expectation of adding anaemia to the list of conditions for which telomere reduction is a risk factor. Participants and methods: the present study is embedded in the Newcastle 85-plus Study and Leiden 85-plus Study, two population-based studies of inhabitants of Newcastle and North Tyneside, UK (n = 749) and Leiden, the Netherlands (n = 658) aged 85 and over. High-molecular-weight DNA was isolated from full fresh blood (Newcastle) and peripheral blood mononuclear cells samples (Leiden). Telomere length was measured as abundance of telomeric template versus a single gene by quantitative real-time polymerase chain reaction. Anaemia was defined according to World Health Organization criteria. Results: in both studies, no differences in median telomere length were observed between participants with anaemia and participants without anaemia (Newcastle: 2,846 bp (interquartile range (IQR) 2,433-3,630) versus 2,920 bp (IQR 2,425-3,570), P = 0.63; Leiden: 4,136 bp (IQR 3,879-4,428) versus 4,167 bp (IQR 3,893-4,501), P = 0.41). Telomere length also did not correlate with any other haematological parameter in both men and women. Conclusions: in contrast to other age-related diseases, telomere length is not associated with anaemia or any other haematological parameter in older individuals in the general population.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Den Elzen WPJ, Martin-Ruiz C, von Zglinicki T, Westendorp RGJ, Kirkwood TBL, Gussekloo J

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Age and Ageing

Year: 2011

Volume: 40

Issue: 4

Pages: 494-500

Print publication date: 27/05/2011

ISSN (print): 0002-0729

ISSN (electronic): 1468-2834

Publisher: Oxford University Press


DOI: 10.1093/ageing/afr048


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Funder referenceFunder name
Dutch Society for Gerontology
050-060-810 NCHANetherlands Genomics Initiative/Netherlands Organization for scientific research
AG06354US National Institutes of Health
G0500997Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council
G0601333Medical Research Council
NGI/NWO 05040202Netherlands Genomics Initiative/Netherlands Organization for scientific research