22 February 2013

Telomere length is a marker of resistance to ARVI

Researchers at Carnegie Mellon University have found that the length of telomeres – protein complexes that protect the end sections of chromosomes – allows predicting the resistance of young and middle-aged adults to upper respiratory tract infections.

Telomere length is a biological marker of aging, since with each cell division, the telomeres of its chromosomes shorten. Reaching their critical length leads to cell death. Short telomeres are associated with earlier development of age-related diseases, such as diseases of the cardiovascular system and cancer, as well as with increased mortality among elderly people. The role of telomeres in maintaining the health of young and middle-aged people is still unclear.

According to one of the authors, Dr. Sheldon Cohen, the results obtained indicate that telomere length is a relatively stable indicator throughout life and becomes a valuable prognostic factor for assessing predisposition to diseases at a young age.

As part of the study, scientists measured the telomere length of the leukocytes of 152 practically healthy volunteers aged 18 to 55 years. After that, all participants were exposed to rhinovirus causing mild respiratory disease and were placed in a 5-day quarantine under the supervision of researchers.

The observations showed that as a result of infection, the disease developed mainly in participants with shorter telomeres, and this pattern extended only to people over the age of 21. Moreover, the older the participants were, the stronger the prognostic factor regarding the risk of infection was the length of the telomeres.

It is also interesting that the most significant was the length of telomeres of a certain type of immune cells – cytolytic CD8+CD28+ T-lymphocytes, which play an important role in the destruction of infected cells. Earlier studies have shown that the telomeres of these cells shorten faster than the telomeres of other cells of the immune system and their short length is associated with a decrease in the levels of markers of immunocompetence of the body.

According to the authors, it seems that the importance of telomere length increases as the body ages, since younger participants registered fewer very short versions of them. It is also possible that the immune system of young people is able to compensate for the loss of active cells. They note that the work done is preliminary and further studies using other viruses and natural infectious agents will help clarify the significance of the results obtained.

Article by Sheldon Cohen et al. The Association Between Telomere Length and Experimentally Induced Upper Respiratory Viral Infection in Healthy Adults is published in the journal JAMA.

Evgeniya Ryabtseva
Portal "Eternal youth" http://vechnayamolodost.ru based on the materials of Carnegie Mellon University:
Carnegie Mellon Researchers Identify Biological Marker That Predicts Susceptibility to the Common Cold.


Found a typo? Select it and press ctrl + enter Print version