Leukocyte telomere length is associated with cognitive performance in healthy women

A. M. Valdes, I. J. Deary, J. Gardner, M. Kimura, X. Lu, T. D. Spector, A. Aviv, L. F. Cherkas

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

98 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Age-related cognitive decline begins in mid-life and continues with advancing age. Leukocyte telomere length (LTL) shortens with age, and inflammation and oxidative stress enhance this process. Shorter LTL is associated with dementia. Methods: The relationship between cognitive function and LTL was investigated in a cross-sectional study of 382 women (mean age 50.6 years, range 19-78), not diagnosed with any form of dementia or cognitive impairment, from the TwinsUK cohort using six tests from the Cambridge neuropsychological test automated battery (CANTAB). Results: After adjusting for age and estimated prior intellectual ability, we observed significant correlations of LTL with episodic memory and associated learning (PAL, p=0.032), recognition memory for non-verbal patterns (DMS, p = 0.007), and working memory capacity (SSP, p = 0.003). In pairs of twins discordant for LTL the twin with longer telomeres also had significantly better DMS (p <0.05) and SSP (p <0.013) scores than their co-twin with shorter telomeres. The correlations between these two scores and LTL was significant both in women over the median mean age and in those below the median age, and remained significant after statistical adjustment for potential confounders. Conclusions: Leukocyte telomere length correlates with a subset of measures of cognitive performance, suggesting that it might be a biomarker of cognitive aging in women before the onset of dementia. (C) 2008 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)986 - 992
Number of pages7
JournalNeurobiology of Aging
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2010


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