Leukocyte telomere length is associated with elevated plasma glucose and HbA1c in young healthy men independent of birth weight

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Telomeres are protein-bound regions of repetitive nucleotide sequences (TTAGGG) at the end of human chromosomes, and their length is a marker of cellular aging. Intrauterine growth restriction is associated with shorter blood cell telomeres at birth and individuals with type 2 diabetes have shorter telomeres. Individuals with a low birth weight (LBW) have an increased risk of metabolic disease and type 2 diabetes. Therefore, we aimed to investigate the relationship between birth weight and telomere length and the association between birth weight, telomere length and cardiometabolic phenotype in adulthood. Young, healthy men with LBW (n = 55) and normal birth weight (NBW) (n = 65) were examined including blood pressure, blood samples and body composition. Leukocyte telomere length was determined using a high-throughput qPCR method. The LBW men were more insulin resistant as determined by the HOMA-IR index. There was no difference in telomere length between LBW and NBW subjects. When adjusting for birth weight and cohort effect, significant negative associations between telomere length and fasting glucose (P = 0.003) and HbA1c (P = 0.0008) were found. In conclusion, no significant difference in telomere length was found between LBW and NBW men. The telomere length was negatively associated with glucose concentrations and HbA1c levels within the normal non-diabetic range independent of birth weight.

Original languageEnglish
Article number7639
JournalScientific Reports
Issue number1
Number of pages8
Publication statusPublished - 2019

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