Telomere length and mtDNA copy number in human cystathionine β-synthase deficiency

Olga Utyro, Joanna Perła-Kaján, Jolanta Kubalska, Ałła Graban, Hieronim Jakubowski

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Telomere shortening and mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) copy number are associated with human disease and a reduced life span. Cystathionine β-synthase (CBS) is a housekeeping enzyme that catalyzes the first step in metabolic conversion of homocysteine (Hcy) to cysteine. Mutations in the CBS gene cause CBS deficiency, a rare recessive metabolic disease, manifested by severe hyperhomocysteinemia (HHcy) and thromboembolism, which ultimately reduces the life span. However, it was not known whether telomere shortening or mtDNA is involved in the pathology of human CBS deficiency. We quantified leukocyte telomere length (TL), mtDNA copy number, and plasma Hcy levels in CBS−/ patients (n = 23) and in sex- and age-matched unaffected CBS+/+ control individuals (n = 28) 0.08–57 years old. We found that TL was significantly increased in severely HHcy CBS−/ female patients but unaffected in severely HHcy CBS−/ male patients, relative to the corresponding CBS+/+ controls who had normal plasma Hcy levels. In multiple regression analysis TL was associated with CBS genotype in women but not in men. MtDNA copy number was not significantly affected by the CBS−/ genotype. Taken together, these findings identify the CBS gene as a new locus in human DNA that affects TL in women and illustrate a concept that a housekeeping metabolic gene can be involved in telomere biology. Our findings suggest that neither telomere shortening nor reduced mtDNA copy number contribute to the reduced life span in CBS−/ patients.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)219-226
Number of pages8
JournalFree Radical Biology and Medicine
StatePublished - Nov 20 2020

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Biochemistry
  • Physiology (medical)


  • Cystathionine β-synthase deficiency
  • Homocysteine
  • Life span
  • Telomere dynamics
  • Thromboembolism
  • mtDNA


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