OBJECTIVES: Telomeres are repetitive non-coding DNA sequences on the ends of eukaryotic chromosomes. Relative leukocyte telomere length (LrTL) is considered to reflect biological ageing and fitness. Therefore, we examined whether LrTL would reflect rTL in aortic tissue (ArTL) and whether it could be used as a marker of biological heart age.
DESIGN: We analysed telomere length in aortic and leukocyte samples from 73 heart recipients (63 males, 10 females; age 52.2±11.7 years). Relative telomere length was measured using a quantitative PCR-based method.
RESULTS: Neither LrTL nor ArTL correlated significantly with the age of heart recipients. Mean ArTL was slightly shorter than LrTL (p=0.06) and there was a slight but significant inverse correlation between LrTL and ArTL (p=0.019).
CONCLUSIONS: The age of patients with end stage heart failure was not associated with leukocyte or aortic telomere length. An inverse correlation between LrTL and ArTL suggests that LrTL is unlikely to be an important predictor of biological ageing in these patients.