Telomeres

What are telomeres?

The most precise biomarker for aging

What are telomeres?

The most precise biomarker for aging

What are telomeres?

Telomeres are part of our DNA and are found at the ends of chromosomes. Their function is to protect our DNA during each cell division by preventing chromosomes from adhering to each other or from losing important information.

Telomeres are made up of repetitions of a specific base pattern (TTAGGG) that does not encode information. The more repeats present, the longer the telomere length.

Over time, and with each cell division, our telomeres successively shorten until they reach a point where their length is critical, and the cells cannot divide any more. They then either undergo a process called apoptosis (programmed cell death) or go into senescence (loss of function) (1).

Many studies link long telomeres and a slower rate of telomere shortening with greater longevity. For example, research done on mice showed that individuals with hyperlong telomeres not only lived 13% longer than those with normal telomeres, but they also stored less fat which also contributed to greater longevity (2).

Due to the impact they have at the cellular level, the length of telomeres and their rate of shortening is considered a relevant biomarker for assessing the state of aging of the entire organism.

What are telomeres?

Due to the impact they have at the cellular level, the length of telomeres and their rate of shortening is considered a relevant biomarker for assessing the state of aging of the entire organism.

WHAT FACTORS DOES TELOMERE SHORTENING DEPEND ON?

Telomere length is highly variable depending on the species we are talking about. For example, mice have longer telomeres than humans, yet they only have a life expectancy of about 2 years.

This is because their rate of telomere shortening is much higher than ours: while we lose about 70 telomere base pairs per year, mice lose about 7,000 base pairs in the same amount of time (3).

However, even within the same species there can be variations in the length and rate of shortening that depend directly on factors such as:

GENETICS

ENVIRONMENT

LYFESTYLE

Different lifestyle choices and the situations we are exposed to over time can cause people with the same chronological age to present vastly different characteristics and they may also have different biological ages.

The most effective way to slow down this aging process and telomere shortening is by following an action plan geared towards healthy lifestyle habits.

What are the consequences of having short telomeres?

Aging is a natural process that many scientists are beginning to classify as a disease in itself.

It causes multiple diseases to appear that are directly related to old age, including:

  • Cardiovascular diseases.
  • Neurodegenerative diseases.
  • Different types of cancer (e.g., prostate, ovary, lung, etc.)
  • Type 1 and 2 diabetes mellitus.
  • Infertility.

How do we measure telomeres at Life Length?

At Life Length we use our patented Telomere Analysis Technology (TAT®), the most accurate measurement on the market, to measure telomeres. TAT® has multiple uses and is applicable in different areas:

RESEARCH SERVICES
ONCOLOGICAL DIAGNOSIS
IDENTIFICATION OF BIOLOGICAL AGE AND PERSONALISED MEDICINE

We apply medicine in four ways:

PREDICTIVE

PREVENTIVE

PARTICIPATORY

PERSONALISED

There is a real need to be able to know if a specific disease is going to develop.

Early detection of a disease improves responses to treatment.

Proactive participation by individuals in health systems.

The best treatment for each person at the ideal time.

PREDICTIVE

PREVENTIVE

PARTICIPATORY

PERSONALISED

There is a real need to be able to know if a specific disease is going to develop.

Early detection of a disease improves responses to treatment.

Proactive participation by individuals in health systems.

The best treatment for each person at the ideal time.

What can we do to preserve our telomeres?

Multiple ongoing studies are currently aiming to lengthen our telomeres or to make them shorten more slowly.

A telomere-associated enzyme (protein) called TELOMERASE plays a fundamental role in their function.

As telomeres shorten with each cell division, telomerase is able to slightly repair the loss of telomere length (4).

Improving our diet, using good supplements, and some treatments such as hyperbaric chamber therapy (5) and ozone therapy, can reduce the level of oxidative stress in our body, thereby improving cell repair mechanisms and preventing our telomeres from shortening as quickly.

REFERENCES

  1. Blasco M. (2011). María Blasco: Keeping a cap on cancer and aging. Interview by Caitlin Sedwick. The Journal of cell biology, 192(3), 370–371. https://doi.org/10.1083/jcb.1923pi
  2. Mice with hyper-long telomeres show less metabolic aging and longer lifespans. Miguel A. Muñoz-Lorente, Alba C. Cano-Martin, Maria A. Blasco (Nature Communications, 2019). DOI: 10.1038/s41467-019-12664-x
  3. Telomere shortening rate predicts species lifespan. Kurt Whittemore, Elsa Vera, Eva Martínez-Nevado, Carola Sanpera, Maria A. Blasco (PNAS, 2019). DOI: https://www.pnas.org/cgi/doi/10.1073/pnas.1902452116
  4. Blasco, M. Telomerase beyond telomeres. Nat Rev Cancer 2, 627–633 (2002). https://doi.org/10.1038/nrc862
  5. Hachmo, Y., Hadanny, A., Abu Hamed, R., Daniel-Kotovsky, M., Catalogna, M., Fishlev, G., Lang, E., Polak, N., Doenyas, K., Friedman, M., Zemel, Y., Bechor, Y., & Efrati, S. (2020). Hyperbaric oxygen therapy increases telomere length and decreases immunosenescence in isolated blood cells: a prospective trial. Aging, 12(22), 22445–22456. https://doi.org/10.18632/aging.202188
  1. Blasco M. (2011). María Blasco: Keeping a cap on cancer and aging. Interview by Caitlin Sedwick. The Journal of cell biology, 192(3), 370–371. https://doi.org/10.1083/jcb.1923pi
  2. Mice with hyper-long telomeres show less metabolic aging and longer lifespans. Miguel A. Muñoz-Lorente, Alba C. Cano-Martin, Maria A. Blasco (Nature Communications, 2019). DOI: 10.1038/s41467-019-12664-x
  3. Telomere shortening rate predicts species lifespan. Kurt Whittemore, Elsa Vera, Eva Martínez-Nevado, Carola Sanpera, Maria A. Blasco (PNAS, 2019). DOI: https://www.pnas.org/cgi/doi/10.1073/pnas.1902452116
  4. Blasco, M. Telomerase beyond telomeres. Nat Rev Cancer 2, 627–633 (2002). https://doi.org/10.1038/nrc862
  5. Hachmo, Y., Hadanny, A., Abu Hamed, R., Daniel-Kotovsky, M., Catalogna, M., Fishlev, G., Lang, E., Polak, N., Doenyas, K., Friedman, M., Zemel, Y., Bechor, Y., & Efrati, S. (2020). Hyperbaric oxygen therapy increases telomere length and decreases immunosenescence in isolated blood cells: a prospective trial. Aging, 12(22), 22445–22456. https://doi.org/10.18632/aging.202188

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