Progressive cerebrovascular atherosclerosis and consecutive stroke are among the most common causes of dementia. However, specific risk factors for vascular dementia are still not known. Human telomeres shorten with each cell division in vitro and with donor age in vivo. In human fibroblasts in vitro, the telomere shortening rate decreased with increasing antioxidative capacity. There was a good intra-individual correlation between the age-corrected telomere lengths in fibroblasts and peripheral blood mononuclear cells. In 186 individuals including 149 geriatric patients (age range, 55–98 yr), leukocyte telomeres in patients with probable or possible vascular dementia were significantly shorter than in three age-matched control groups, namely in cognitively competent patients suffering from cerebrovascular or cardiovascular disease alone, in patients with probable Alzheimer’s dementia, and in apparently healthy control subjects. No correlation was found to polymorphisms in the apolipoprotein E and glutathione-S-transferase genes. Telomere length may be an independent predictor for the risk of vascular dementia.
The authors thank Dr. Peter Hufnagl (Berlin) for statistical advice, and Mrs. Susanne Metzkow (Berlin) and Mrs. Birgit Jäger (Heidelberg) for excellent technical assistance.
Thomas von Zglinicki1, Violeta Serra1, Mario Lorenz1, Gabriele Saretzki1, Romana Lenzen-Groimlighaus2, Reinhard Gener3, Angela Risch4 and Elisabeth Steinhagen-Thiessen2
- 1Institute of Pathology, Humboldt University, Berlin
- 2Research Group Geriatrics at the Evangelische Geriatriezentrum Berlin, Humboldt University, Berlin
- 3Institute of Laboratory Medicine and Pathobiochemistry, Charité, Humboldt University, Berlin
- 4Department of Toxicology and Cancer Risk Factors, German Cancer Research Center, Heidelberg, Germany
Correspondence: Dr. Thomas von Zglinicki, Department of Gerontology, IHE, Wolfson Research Centre, Newcastle General Hospital, Westgate Road, Newcastle upon Tyne NE4 6BE, UK. Fax: 44191 219 5074; E-mail: [email protected]