Racial and Socioeconomic Variation in Genetic Markers of Telomere Length: A Cross-Sectional Study of U.S. Older Adults.

TitleRacial and Socioeconomic Variation in Genetic Markers of Telomere Length: A Cross-Sectional Study of U.S. Older Adults.
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2016
AuthorsHamad, R, Tuljapurkar, S, Rehkopf, D
ISSN Number2352-3964
KeywordsAge Factors, Aged, Aged, 80 and over, Alleles, Cross-Sectional Studies, Ethnic Groups, Female, Gene Frequency, Genetic Markers, Genome-Wide Association Study, Geriatric Assessment, Humans, Male, Middle Aged, Polymorphism, Single Nucleotide, Population Surveillance, Socioeconomic factors, Telomere Homeostasis, United States

BACKGROUND: Shorter telomere length (TL) has been associated with stress and adverse socioeconomic conditions, yet U.S. blacks have longer TL than whites. The role of genetic versus environmental factors in explaining TL by race and socioeconomic position (SEP) remains unclear.

METHODS: We used data from the U.S. Health and Retirement Study (N=11,934) to test the hypothesis that there are differences in TL-associated SNPs by race and SEP. We constructed a TL polygenic risk score (PRS) and examined its association with race/ethnicity, educational attainment, assets, gender, and age.

RESULTS: U.S. blacks were more likely to have a lower PRS for TL, as were older individuals and men. Racial differences in TL were statistically accounted for when controlling for population structure using genetic principal components. The GWAS-derived SNPs for TL, however, may not have consistent associations with TL across different racial/ethnic groups.

CONCLUSIONS: This study showed that associations of race/ethnicity with TL differed when accounting for population stratification. The role of race/ethnicity for TL remains uncertain, however, as the genetic determinants of TL may differ by race/ethnicity. Future GWAS samples should include racially diverse participants to allow for better characterization of the determinants of TL in human populations.

Citation Key8593
PubMed ID27566956
PubMed Central IDPMC5049995
Grant ListK01 AG047280 / AG / NIA NIH HHS / United States
KL2 TR001083 / TR / NCATS NIH HHS / United States
R24 AG039345 / AG / NIA NIH HHS / United States