Telomeres as Biomarkers for Ageing and Age-Related Diseases
Telomeres in most human cells shorten during ageing in vivo as well, suggesting that telomere length could be a biomarker of ageing and age-related morbidity. There are two distinct possibilities: First, in a tissue-specific fashion, short telomeres might indicate senescence of (stem) cells, and this might contribute to age-related functional attenuation in this tissue. Second, short telomeres in one tissue might cause systemic effects or might simply indicate a history of high stress and damage in the individual and could thus act as risk markers for age-related disease residing in a completely different tissue. In recent years, data have been published to support both approaches, and we will review these. While they together paint a fairly promising picture, it needs to be pointed out that until now most of the evidence is correlative, that much of it comes from underpowered studies, and that causal evidence for essential pathways, for instance for the impact of cell senescence on tissue ageing in vivo, is still very weak.
Document Type: Review Article
Affiliations: University of Newcastle, School of Clinical Medical Sciences - Gerontology, Henry Wellcome Laboratory for Biogerontology Research, Newcastle General Hospital, Newcastle upon Tyne, NE4 6BE, UK.
Publication date: March 1, 2005
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