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      Telomerase Activity Is Decreased in Peripheral Blood Mononuclear Cells of Hemodialysis Patients

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          Background: Telomerase preserves telomere length and structure, preventing cellular senescence, which is associated with alteration of the chromosomal ends. We hypothesized that telomerase activity is altered in peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) of hemodialysis (HD) patients. To investigate this hypothesis as well as the relationship between telomerase and inflammation, we measured the activity of this reverse transcriptase as well as the level of several inflammatory markers in PBMCs and serum of an end-stage renal failure (ESRF) population and a non-renal-failure group of subjects. Methods: In PBMCs isolated from 42 HD and 39 non-renal-failure subjects of the same age (51.0 ± 12.4 and 51.4 ± 12.1 years, respectively) telomerase activity was measured using PCR-ELISA; the method was based on the telomeric repeat amplification protocol. Results: Telomerase activity in PBMCs was detected in 18 (42.9%) HD and 28 (71.8%) non-renal-failure subjects (p = 0.013). Among positive subjects, percent telomerase activity in PBMCs was significantly higher in non-renal- failure (117 ± 112 %) than in HD (47.6 ± 57.1 %) subjects (p = 0.008). Detectable telomerase activity was lower in long-term than in short-term HD patients (13.3 ± 8.9 vs. 75.0 ± 64.8%, respectively, p = 0.015). Although higher in HD group, inflammatory indexes (C-reactive protein, interleukin-6, IL-6, soluble IL-6 and soluble gp130) were not correlated to telomerase activity in PBMCs. Conclusion: Telomerase activity in PBMCs is reduced in HD patients. It seems that, at least in this type of cell in this population, defense from senescence, as assessed by telomerase activity, is altered and associated with the chronicity of uremia/HD procedure.

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          Most cited references 13

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          Senescence induced by altered telomere state, not telomere loss.

          Primary human cells in culture invariably stop dividing and enter a state of growth arrest called replicative senescence. This transition is induced by programmed telomere shortening, but the underlying mechanisms are unclear. Here, we report that overexpression of TRF2, a telomeric DNA binding protein, increased the rate of telomere shortening in primary cells without accelerating senescence. TRF2 reduced the senescence setpoint, defined as telomere length at senescence, from 7 to 4 kilobases. TRF2 protected critically short telomeres from fusion and repressed chromosome-end fusions in presenescent cultures, which explains the ability of TRF2 to delay senescence. Thus, replicative senescence is induced by a change in the protected status of shortened telomeres rather than by a complete loss of telomeric DNA.
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            Telomerase maintains telomere structure in normal human cells.

            In normal human cells, telomeres shorten with successive rounds of cell division, and immortalization correlates with stabilization of telomere length. These observations suggest that human cancer cells achieve immortalization in large part through the illegitimate activation of telomerase expression. Here, we demonstrate that the rate-limiting telomerase catalytic subunit hTERT is expressed in cycling primary presenescent human fibroblasts, previously believed to lack hTERT expression and telomerase activity. Disruption of telomerase activity in normal human cells slows cell proliferation, restricts cell lifespan, and alters the maintenance of the 3' single-stranded telomeric overhang without changing the rate of overall telomere shortening. Together, these observations support the view that telomerase and telomere structure are dynamically regulated in normal human cells and that telomere length alone is unlikely to trigger entry into replicative senescence.
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              Beginning to understand the end of the chromosome.

               Thomas Cech (2004)
              In their 1985 Cell paper, Greider and Blackburn announced the discovery of an enzyme that extended the DNA at chromosome telomeres in the ciliate, Tetrahymena. Since then, there has been an explosion of knowledge about both the RNA and protein subunits of this unusual ribonucleoprotein enzyme in organisms ranging from the ciliates to yeast to humans. The regulation of telomerase is now understood to take place both at the level of synthesis of the enzyme and via the state of its substrate, the telomere itself. The roles of telomerase in both cellular immortality and cancer are vibrant areas of current research.

                Author and article information

                Am J Nephrol
                American Journal of Nephrology
                S. Karger AG
                April 2006
                05 April 2006
                : 26
                : 1
                : 91-96
                aDepartment of Nephrology, General Hospital of Athens, bDepartment of Medical Biopathology, Eginition Hospital, Medical School, University of Athens, and cRenal Unit, Blue Cross Hospital, Athens, Greece
                92031 Am J Nephrol 2006;26:91–96
                © 2006 S. Karger AG, Basel

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                Page count
                Figures: 2, Tables: 1, References: 18, Pages: 6
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                Original Report: Laboratory Investigation


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