Cardiovascular risk increases with chronological as well as biological aging, and one marker of this might be telomere length. The telomere cap is located at the end of the DNA helix and serves to protect its end. This is an evolutionary adaptation which has resulted in stabilization of the DNA strand within the chromosome. During the life course, telomeres tend to shorten in most cells, with the exception of germ line cells and cells that do not undergo cell division, as well as cancer cells. Telomeres are typically shorter in men than in women and continue to shorten over the life-span. In certain conditions this shortening is enhanced, especially in the presence of cardiovascular risk factors. There is evidence to suggest that telomere length could be a potential marker of early vascular aging in individuals with a burden of cardiovascular risk factors that might speed up the aging process.
Department of Clinical Sciences, Lund University, Skåne University Hospital, Malmö, Sweden
Correspondence to Peter M. Nilsson, MD, PhD, Professor of Clinical Cardiovascular Research, Department of Clinical Sciences, Lund University, Skåne University Hospital, Entrance 33, S-205 02 Malmö, Sweden. Tel: +46 40 33 24 15; fax: +46 40 92 32 72; e-mail: Peter.Nilsson@med.lu.se
Abbreviations: CAD, coronary artery disease; CHD, coronary heart disease; CVD, cardiovascular disease; EVA, early vascular aging; LVH, left ventricular hypertrophy; MCI, mild cognitive impairment; MI, myocardial infarction; WOSCOPS, West of Scotland Primary Prevention Study
Received 20 March, 2012
Accepted 20 March, 2012