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04.04.2018 | AGEING

Longitudinal associations of lifetime adiposity with leukocyte telomere length and mitochondrial DNA copy number

European Journal of Epidemiology
Dong Hang, Hongmei Nan, Ane Sørlie Kværner, Immaculata De Vivo, Andrew Tan Chan, Zhibin Hu, Hongbing Shen, Edward Giovannucci, Mingyang Song


Adiposity may cause adverse health outcomes by increasing oxidative stress and systemic inflammation, which can be reflected by altered telomere length (TL) and mitochondrial DNA copy number (mtCN) in peripheral blood leukocytes. However, little is known about the influence of lifetime adiposity on TL and mtCN in later life. This study was performed to investigate the associations of lifetime adiposity with leukocyte TL and mtCN in 9613 participants from the Nurses’ Health Study. A group-based trajectory modelling approach was used to create trajectories of body shape from age 5 through 60 years, and a genetic risk score (GRS) was created based on 97 known adiposity susceptibility variants. Associations of body shape trajectories and GRS with dichotomized TL and mtCN were assessed by logistic regression models. After adjustment for lifestyle and dietary factors, compared with the lean-stable group, the lean-marked increase group had higher odds of having below-median TL (OR = 1.18, 95% CI 1.04, 1.35; P = 0.01), and the medium-marked increase group had higher odds of having below-median mtCN (OR = 1.28, 95% CI 1.00, 1.64; P = 0.047). There was a suggestive trend toward lower mtCN across the GRS quartiles (P for trend = 0.07). In conclusion, telomere attrition may be accelerated by marked weight gain in middle life, whereas mtCN is likely to be reduced persistently by adiposity over the life course. The findings indicate the importance of lifetime weight management to preserve functional telomeres and mitochondria.

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