Genetic, parental and lifestyle factors influence telomere length
The average length of telomere repeats is known to decline with age in cells of most self-renewing tissues. Studies on the role of telomere loss in aging are complicated by the loss of cells with age, inaccurate telomere length measurements and a paucity of longitudinal studies. Using the clinically validated flow-FISH method to measure the telomere length in leukocyte subsets, we measured the telomere length in 6 blood cell types in a total of 1,046 participants of a deeply characterized population cohort study from the northern Netherlands. Differences in telomere length in leukocyte subsets mirrored previous findings in North America . A detailed study of the variables associated with individual telomere length differences showed significant correlations with genetic, intrinsic and parental factors, including parental age and smoking habits. We conclude that the telomere length in leukocytes reflects many variables apart from chronological age, including genetic factors and parental factors that were previously understudied or not previously reported.