Telomere length and health outcomes: A two-sample genetic instrumental variables analysis.

TitleTelomere length and health outcomes: A two-sample genetic instrumental variables analysis.
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2016
AuthorsHamad, R, Walter, S, Rehkopf, D
JournalExp Gerontol
Date Published2016 09
ISSN Number1873-6815
KeywordsAged, Aging, Coronary Artery Disease, Databases, Factual, Female, Humans, Longitudinal Studies, Male, Middle Aged, Molecular Epidemiology, Polymorphism, Single Nucleotide, Self Report, Telomere, Telomere Homeostasis, United States

OBJECTIVE: Previous studies linking telomere length (TL) and health have been largely associational. We apply genetic instrumental variables (IV) analysis, also known as Mendelian randomization, to test the hypothesis that shorter TL leads to poorer health. This method reduces bias from reverse causation or confounding.

METHODS: We used two approaches in this study that rely on two separate data sources: (1) individual-level data from the Health and Retirement Study (HRS) (N=3734), and (2) coefficients from genome-wide association studies (GWAS). We employed two-sample genetic IV analyses, constructing a polygenic risk score (PRS) of TL-associated single nucleotide polymorphisms. The first approach examined the association of the PRS with nine individual health outcomes in HRS. The second approach took advantage of estimates available in GWAS databases to estimate the impact of TL on five health outcomes using an inverse variance-weighted meta-analytic technique.

RESULTS: Using individual-level data, shorter TL was marginally statistically significantly associated with decreased risk of stroke and increased risk of heart disease. Using the meta-analytic approach, shorter TL was associated with increased risk of coronary artery disease (OR 1.02 per 100 base pairs, 95%CI: 1.00, 1.03).

DISCUSSION: With the exception of a small contribution to heart disease, our findings suggest that TL may be a marker of disease rather than a cause. They also demonstrate the utility of the inverse variance-weighted meta-analytic approach when examining small effect sizes.

User Guide Notes

Alternate JournalExp. Gerontol.
Citation Key8505
PubMed ID27321645
PubMed Central IDPMC4969151
Grant ListK01 AG047280 / AG / NIA NIH HHS / United States
KL2 TR001083 / TR / NCATS NIH HHS / United States
U01 AG009740 / AG / NIA NIH HHS / United States