Shorter Leucocyte Telomere Length Linked to Dementia Risk

Shorter leucocyte telomere length also associated with smaller total brain volume, white matter volume, hippocampus volume

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TUESDAY, Sept. 12, 2023 (HealthDay News) -- Short leucocyte telomere length (LTL) is associated with an increased risk for dementia and Alzheimer disease (AD), according to a study published online Sept. 11 in General Psychiatry.

Zhi Cao, from Hangzhou Normal University in China, and colleagues examined the association of LTL with brain structure and dementia risk. LTL was measured in the peripheral blood of 439,961 individuals from the U.K. Biobank. The incidence of dementia, including AD and vascular dementia, was ascertained from electronic health records. Magnetic resonance imaging was used to assess the brain structure of 38,740 participants, including total and regional brain volume.

The researchers identified 5,820 (1.3 percent) documented dementia cases during a median follow-up of 11.6 years. Significant overall associations were seen between LTL and the risk for dementia and AD in the restricted cubic spline model. Compared with the highest LTL tertile, the multivariable adjusted hazard ratios (95 percent confidence intervals) for the lowest LTL tertile were 1.14 (1.06 to 1.21), 1.28 (1.12 to 1.46), and 1.18 (0.98 to 1.42) for dementia, AD, and vascular dementia, respectively. There was an association noted for shorter LTL with smaller total brain volume, white matter volume, hippocampus volume, thalamus volume, and accumbens.

"These findings highlight telomere length as a potential biomarker of brain health," the authors write. "Further studies are needed to unravel any underlying biological pathways from LTL to dementia."

Abstract/Full Text

Elana Gotkine

Elana Gotkine

Medically reviewed by Mark Arredondo, M.D.

Published on September 12, 2023

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