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The relationship between naevus count, memory function and telomere length in the TwinsUK cohort

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Stefano Masi, Georgios Georgiopoulos, Simone Ribero, Stefano Taddei, Veronique Bataille, Claire J. Steves

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)720-724
JournalPigment Cell and Melanoma Research
Issue number6
Early online date28 Jun 2018
Accepted/In press22 Jun 2018
E-pub ahead of print28 Jun 2018
PublishedNov 2018


King's Authors


The presence of a skin–brain connection whereby alterations in the skin can inform on mechanisms underlying neurodegenerative diseases is increasingly recognized. In this study, we used a discovery (n = 321) and replication (n = 147) sample from the Twins UK population to test the association between naevus count and memory function, and its mediation by telomeres. Memory function was assessed in 1999 and 2009 using the paired associates learning test (PAL), while naevus count and leucocyte telomere length (LTL, assessed by the terminal restriction fragment assay) were measured once. Higher baseline naevus count was significantly associated with fewer errors at the baseline and follow-up PAL, as well as with change in PAL score over 10 years. This association was significantly attenuated after adjustment for LTL. The significant association between naevus count and PAL score was reproduced in the replication sample. These findings suggest that melanocytes might be used as model system to study the biological ageing pathways involved in neurodegeneration.

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