Genetic variation in TERT and TERC and human leukocyte telomere length and longevity: A cross-sectional and longitudinal analysis

Mette Soerensen, Mikael Thinggaard, Marianne Nygaard, Serena Dato, Qihua Tan, Jacob Hjelmborg, Karen Andersen-Ranberg, Tinna Stevnsner, Vilhelm A. Bohr, Masayuki Kimura, Abraham Aviv, Kaare Christensen, Lene Christiansen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

98 Scopus citations


Telomerase is of key importance for telomere maintenance, and variants of the genes encoding its major subunits, telomerase reverse transcriptase (TERT) and telomerase RNA component (TERC), are candidates for interindividual variation in telomere length. Recently, the two SNPs rs3772190 and rs12696304 in the TERC locus were reported to be associated with leukocyte telomere length (LTL) in two genome-wide association studies, while one haplotype of TERT (rs2853669, rs2736098, rs33954691, and rs2853691) has been reported to be associated with both LTL and longevity in a candidate gene study. In this study, we investigated the two TERC and four TERT SNPs in middle-aged, old, and oldest-old Danes (58-100years) and their association with LTL (n=864) and longevity (n=1069). Furthermore, data on 11 TERT tagging SNPs in 1089 oldest-old and 736 middle-aged Danes were investigated with respect to longevity. For all SNPs, the association with longevity was investigated using both a cross-sectional and a longitudinal approach. Applying an additive model, we found association of LTL with the minor TERC alleles of rs3772190 (A) and rs12696304 (G), such that a shorter LTL was seen in rs3772190 A carriers (regression coefficient=-0.08, P=0.011) and in male rs12696304G carriers (regression coefficient=-0.13, P=0.014). No TERT variations showed association. Moreover, the A allele of rs3772190 (TERC) was found to be associated with longevity [hazard rate (AG+AA)=1.31, P=0.006]. No associations with longevity were observed for the TERT SNPs or haplotypes. Our study, thus, indicates that TERC is associated with both LTL and longevity in humans.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)223-227
Number of pages5
JournalAging cell
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 2012

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Aging
  • Cell Biology


  • Association study
  • Cross-sectional data and longitudinal data
  • Human longevity
  • Leukocyte telomere length
  • Telomerase RNA component
  • Telomerase reverse transcriptase


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