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Shorter telomeres with high telomerase activity are associated with raised allostatic load and impoverished psychosocial resources

journal contribution
posted on 04.11.2015 by Argita Zalli, Livia A. Carvalho, Jue Lin, Mark Hamer, Jorge D. Erusalimsky, Elizabeth H. Blackburn, Andrew Steptoe
Recent work has linked psychological stress with premature cellular aging as indexed by reduced leukocyte telomere length. The combination of shorter telomeres with high telomerase activity (TA) may be indicative of active cell stress. We hypothesized that older individuals characterized by shorter telomeres with high TA in unstimulated leukocytes would show signs of high allostatic load and low levels of protective psychosocial resources. We studied 333 healthy men and women aged 54–76 y who underwent laboratory testing in which we measured cardiovascular, neuroendocrine, and inflammatory responses to standardized mental stress tasks. The tasks elicited prompt increases in blood pressure (BP), heart rate, cortisol, and mediators of inflammation and reductions in heart rate variability, returning toward baseline levels following stress. However, men having shorter telomeres with high TA showed blunted poststress recovery in systolic BP, heart rate variability, and monocyte chemoattractant protein-1, together with reduced responsivity in diastolic BP, heart rate, and cortisol, in comparison to men with longer telomeres or men with shorter telomeres and low TA. Shorter telomeres with high TA were also associated with reduced social support, lower optimism, higher hostility, and greater early life adversity. These effects were independent of age, socioeconomic status, and body mass index. We did not observe differences among older women. Our findings suggest that active cell stress is associated with impaired physiological stress responses and impoverished psychosocial resources, reflecting an integration of cellular, systemic, and psychological stress processes potentially relevant to health in older men.

Funding

This research was funded by the British Heart Foundation (Grant RG/10/005/28296), the Medical Research Council (Grant G0601647), and the Bernard and Barbro Fund (E.H.B.)

History

School

  • Sport, Exercise and Health Sciences

Published in

Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of USA

Citation

ZALLI, A. ... et al., 2014. Shorter telomeres with high telomerase activity are associated with raised allostatic load and impoverished psychosocial resources. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 111 (12), pp. 4519–4524.

Publisher

© The Authors. Published by the National Academy of Sciences

Version

VoR (Version of Record)

Publisher statement

This work is made available according to the conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0) licence. Full details of this licence are available at: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/

Publication date

2014

Notes

Closed access. This article is also available from: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3970484/

ISSN

1091-6490

Language

en

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