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      Accelerated telomere shortening in response to life stress.

      Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America

      Adult, Age Factors, Cell Aging, Female, Humans, Leukocytes, Mononuclear, physiology, Middle Aged, Mothers, Oxidative Stress, Premenopause, Stress, Psychological, Telomere, metabolism, ultrastructure

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          Abstract

          Numerous studies demonstrate links between chronic stress and indices of poor health, including risk factors for cardiovascular disease and poorer immune function. Nevertheless, the exact mechanisms of how stress gets "under the skin" remain elusive. We investigated the hypothesis that stress impacts health by modulating the rate of cellular aging. Here we provide evidence that psychological stress--both perceived stress and chronicity of stress--is significantly associated with higher oxidative stress, lower telomerase activity, and shorter telomere length, which are known determinants of cell senescence and longevity, in peripheral blood mononuclear cells from healthy premenopausal women. Women with the highest levels of perceived stress have telomeres shorter on average by the equivalent of at least one decade of additional aging compared to low stress women. These findings have implications for understanding how, at the cellular level, stress may promote earlier onset of age-related diseases.

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          Most cited references 15

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          Oxidative stress shortens telomeres.

          Telomeres in most human cells shorten with each round of DNA replication, because they lack the enzyme telomerase. This is not, however, the only determinant of the rate of loss of telomeric DNA. Oxidative damage is repaired less well in telomeric DNA than elsewhere in the chromosome, and oxidative stress accelerates telomere loss, whereas antioxidants decelerate it. I suggest here that oxidative stress is an important modulator of telomere loss and that telomere-driven replicative senescence is primarily a stress response. This might have evolved to block the growth of cells that have been exposed to a high risk of mutation.
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            The rate of telomere sequence loss in human leukocytes varies with age.

            A gradual loss of telomeric repeat sequences with aging previously has been noted in normal adult tissues, and this process has been implicated in cell senescence. No data exist that address the rate of telomere shortening in normal human cells within families or early in life. To address these questions, we measured telomere lengths in peripheral blood leukocytes (PBLs) from 75 members of 12 families and in a group of unrelated healthy children who were 5-48 months old. Here we report the surprising observation that rates of telomere attrition vary markedly at different ages. Telomeric repeats are lost rapidly (at a rate of >1 kilobase per year) from the PBLs of young children, followed by an apparent plateau between age 4 and young adulthood, and by gradual attrition later in life. These data suggest that the loss of telomeric repeats in hematopoietic cells is a dynamic process that is differentially regulated in young children and adults. Our results have implications for current models of how telomeric sequences are lost in normal somatic cells and suggest that PBLs are an excellent tissue to investigate how this process is controlled.
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              The RNA component of telomerase is mutated in autosomal dominant dyskeratosis congenita.

              Dyskeratosis congenita is a progressive bone-marrow failure syndrome that is characterized by abnormal skin pigmentation, leukoplakia and nail dystrophy. X-linked, autosomal recessive and autosomal dominant inheritance have been found in different pedigrees. The X-linked form of the disease is due to mutations in the gene DKC1 in band 2, sub-band 8 of the long arm of the X chromosome (ref. 3). The affected protein, dyskerin, is a nucleolar protein that is found associated with the H/ACA class of small nucleolar RNAs and is involved in pseudo-uridylation of specific residues of ribosomal RNA. Dyskerin is also associated with telomerase RNA (hTR), which contains a H/ACA consensus sequence. Here we map the gene responsible for dyskeratosis congenita in a large pedigree with autosomal dominant inheritance. Affected members of this family have an 821-base-pair deletion on chromosome 3q that removes the 3' 74 bases of hTR. Mutations in hTR were found in two other families with autosomal dominant dyskeratosis congenita.
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                Author and article information

                Journal
                15574496
                534658
                10.1073/pnas.0407162101

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