Public Library of Science
First page number:
Last page number:
Background: This study aims to assess the decline in telomere length (TL) with age and evaluate effect modification by gender, chronic stress, and comorbidity in a representative sample of the US population. Methods: Cross-sectional data on 7826 adults with a TL measurement, were included from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, years 1999–2002. The population rate of decline in TL across 10-year age categories was estimated using crude and adjusted regression. Results: In an adjusted model, the population rate of decline in TL with age was consistent and linear for only three age categories: 20–29 (β = -0.0172, 95% CI: -0.0342, -0.0002), 50–59 (β = -0.0182, 95% CI: -0.0311, -0.0054) and 70–79 (β = -0.0170, 95% CI: -0.0329, -0.0011) years. The population rate of decline in TL with age was significantly greater for males and those with high allostatic load and a history of comorbidities. When the population rate of decline in TL was analyzed by gender in 10-year age bins, a fairly consistent yet statistically non-significant decline for males was observed; however, a trough in the rate was observed for females in the age categories 20–29 years (β = -0.0284, 95% CI: -0.0464, -0.0103) and 50–59 years (β = -0.0211, 95% CI: -0.0391, -0.0032). To further elucidate the gender difference observed in the primary analyses, secondary analyses were conducted with reproductive and hormonal status; a significant inverse association was found between TL and parity, menopause, and age at menopause. Conclusions: TL was shorter with increasing age and this decline was modified by gender, chronic stress and comorbidities; individuals with chronic morbidity and/or chronic stress and females in their twenties and fifties experienced greater decline. Female reproductive factors, i.e., parity and menopause, were associated with TL.
Genetics and Genomics | Gerontology | Public Health
Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
Hill, C. V.,
Sy, F. S.,
Decline in Telomere Length by Age and Effect Modification by Gender, Allostatic Load and Comorbidities in National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (1999-2002).
PLoS ONE, 14(8),
Public Library of Science.