Aging is a major risk factor for hypertension and associated cardiovascular disease. In most proliferative tissues, aging is characterized by shortening of the DNA component of telomeres, the specialized genetic segments that cap the end of eukaryotic chromosomes and protect them from end-to-end fusions. By inducing genomic instability, replicative senescence and apoptosis, telomere shortening is thought to contribute to organismal aging and to the development of age-related diseases. Here, we review animal and human studies that have investigated the possible links between telomere ablation and the pathogenesis of hypertension and related target organ damage. Although evidence is mounting that alterations in telomerase activity and telomere shortening may play a role in the pathogenesis of hypertension, additional studies are required to understand the molecular mechanisms by which telomere dysfunction and hypertension are functionally connected. As our knowledge on this emerging field grows, the challenge will be to ascertain whether all this information might translate into clinical applications.
aLaboratory of Vascular Biology, Department of Molecular and Cellular Pathology and Therapy, Instituto de Biomedicina de Valencia, Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas, 46010 Valencia, Spain
bDivision of Cardiovascular Sciences, Centre for Applied Medical Research, Department of Cardiology and Cardiovascular Surgery, University Clinic, School of Medicine, University of Navarra, Pamplona, Spain
Received 28 March, 2007
Revised 29 May, 2007
Accepted 26 June, 2007
Correspondence to Vicente Andrés, PhD, Laboratory of Vascular Biology, Instituto de Biomedicina de Valencia (IBV-CSIC), C/Jaime Roig 11, 46010 Valencia, Spain Tel: +34 96 3391752; fax: +34 96 3391751; e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org