Leukocyte telomere length is associated with HDL cholesterol levels: The Bogalusa heart study

Wei Chen, Jeffrey P. Gardner, Masayuki Kimura, Michael Brimacombe, Xiaojian Cao, Sathanur R. Srinivasan, Gerald S. Berenson, Abraham Aviv

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

60 Scopus citations


Objective: This study examined the relationships of high-density lipoprotein cholesterol (HDL-C) with LTL and the rate of its shortening. Background: Diminished levels of HDL-C are associated with an increased risk for atherosclerosis. Shortened leukocyte telomere length (LTL) also entails an increased atherosclerotic risk. Methods: We studied 472 Whites and 190 African Americans (AfAs) enrolled in the Bogalusa Heart Study. Subjects were examined serially 3-13 times for HDL-C over an average period of 27.8 years from childhood through young adulthood. LTL was measured twice during adulthood at a mean age of 31.5 years (baseline exam) and 37.8 years (follow-up exam). HDL-C trajectories with age were constructed and the area under the curve (AUC) was used as a measure of cumulative HDL-C levels. Results: Multivariate regression analyses showed that LTL was positively associated with HDL-C in childhood (regression coefficient (bp per mg/dL) β = 3.1, p = 0.024), adulthood (β = 4.4, p = 0.058) and AUC from childhood to adulthood (β = 12.2, p = 0.0004) in the combined sample of AfAs and Whites. The association between LTL and HDL-C AUC was stronger in females (β = 18.5, p < 0.001) than in males (β = 2.9, p = 0.590) (difference in slopes p = 0.037). A slower rate of LTL shortening per year was associated with higher HDL-C AUC in the total sample (p = 0.033), adjusting for baseline LTL. Conclusions: As HDL-C exerts anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory effects and LTL registers the accruing burden of oxidative stress and inflammation, the association between HDL-C and LTL might be explained by the lifelong status of oxidative stress and inflammation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)620-625
Number of pages6
Issue number2
StatePublished - Aug 2009

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine


  • Gender
  • HDL cholesterol
  • Leukocyte telomere
  • Longitudinal
  • Race


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