Leukocyte Telomere Length and All-Cause, Cardiovascular Disease, and Cancer Mortality: Results From Individual-Participant-Data Meta-Analysis of 2 Large Prospective Cohort Studies

Ute Mons, Aysel Müezzinler, Ben Schöttker, Aida Karina Dieffenbach, Katja Butterbach, Matthias Schick, Anne Peasey, Immaculata De Vivo, Antonia Trichopoulou, Paolo Boffetta, Hermann Brenner
American Journal of Epidemiology 2017 June 15, 185 (12): 1317-1326
We studied the associations of leukocyte telomere length (LTL) with all-cause, cardiovascular disease, and cancer mortality in 12,199 adults participating in 2 population-based prospective cohort studies from Europe (ESTHER) and the United States (Nurses' Health Study). Blood samples were collected in 1989-1990 (Nurses' Health Study) and 2000-2002 (ESTHER). LTL was measured by quantitative polymerase chain reaction. We calculated z scores for LTL to standardize LTL measurements across the cohorts. Cox proportional hazards regression models were used to calculate relative mortality according to continuous levels and quintiles of LTL z scores. The hazard ratios obtained from each cohort were subsequently pooled by meta-analysis. Overall, 2,882 deaths were recorded during follow-up (Nurses' Health Study, 1989-2010; ESTHER, 2000-2015). LTL was inversely associated with age in both cohorts. After adjustment for age, a significant inverse trend of LTL with all-cause mortality was observed in both cohorts. In random-effects meta-analysis, age-adjusted hazard ratios for the shortest LTL quintile compared with the longest were 1.23 (95% confidence interval (CI): 1.04, 1.46) for all-cause mortality, 1.29 (95% CI: 0.83, 2.00) for cardiovascular mortality, and 1.10 (95% CI: 0.88, 1.37) for cancer mortality. In this study population with an age range of 43-75 years, we corroborated previous evidence suggesting that LTL predicts all-cause mortality beyond its association with age.

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