Scientific investigators continue searching for the answer to understand why telomeres so heavily influence the onset of age-related diseases. We know that telomeres play a fundamental role in cell replication in order to protect the genes inside the chromosome from mutating, but what do telomeres have to do with specific diseases such cirrhosis, hepatitis, and live caner?

A recent study by the Spanish National Cancer Research Center’s telomere and telomerase division tried to answer this question. The investigators created a mouse model that paralleled the onset and development of liver diseases found in humans. The results showed that telomere dysfunction was a factor initiating the development of these diseases.

The researchers used a mouse line deficient of TRF1 (an important part of the protective telomere complex called shelterin) and observed as the subject reacted to the introduction of the hepotoxic agent CC14, used to increase liver toxicity. The results showed that the hepatic cells in the telomere deficient mice showed characteristics of cirrhosis or hepatitis.

The study has opened up a new possible route in liver disease prevention focusing on the protection of the telomeres.