No Shorter Telomeres in Subjects With a Family History of Cardiovascular Disease in the Asklepios Study
Objective—Shorter telomere length is associated with the occurrence of cardiovascular events, but the question of causality is complicated by the intertwined effects of inheritance, aging, and lifestyle factors on both telomere length and cardiovascular disease (CVD). Some studies indicated that healthy offspring of coronary artery disease patients exhibited shorter telomeres than subjects without a family history. Importantly, this result would imply that inheritance of shorter telomeres is a primary abnormality associated with an increased risk of CVD, the so-called Telomere Hypothesis of CVD. Therefore, we aimed at further validating the latter results in the large, population-representative Asklepios Study.
Methods and results—Peripheral blood leukocyte telomere length was measured using telomere restriction fragment analysis in the young to middle-aged (≈35–55 years old) Asklepios study population, free from overt CVD, and could be successfully combined with data from the Asklepios Family History Database for 2136 subjects. No shorter telomere length could be found in healthy subjects with a family history of CVD compared with those without.
Conclusion—These findings cast serious doubt on the hypothesis that telomere length is shorter in families with an increased risk of CVD and do not support the Telomere Hypothesis of CVD.
- Asklepios Study
- cardiovascular disease
- family history
- telomere hypothesis of cardiovascular diseases
- Received August 21, 2012.
- Accepted October 8, 2012.
- © 2012 American Heart Association, Inc.