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Longevity Briefs: Is Telomere Length Linked to Facial Ageing?

Posted on 19 October 2020

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Longevity briefs provides a short summary of a novel research, medicine, or technology that caught the attention of our researchers in Oxford, due to its potential to improve our health, wellbeing, and longevity.

Why is this research important: Telomeres are genetic ‘caps’ that protect the DNA at the ends of chromosomes during cellular division. Telomeres become shorter each time a cell divides, eventually causing cells to enter a state called senescence, in which they are unable to divide further. Telomere shortening has been suggested as an important molecular mechanism in skin ageing.

What did the researchers do: Researchers studied the relationship between telomere length and facial skin ageing. To do this, they identified genetic sites that are associated with telomere length in white blood cells. Telomere length in white blood cells is known to correlate with telomere length in skin cells. They then used a technique called Mendelian randomisation to study the association between white cell telomere length and self-reported facial skin ageing in 417 772 participants from the UK Biobank.

Key takeaway(s) from this research: Having a longer genetically -predicted white cell telomere length was associated with a lower likelihood of facial ageing. Previous research has studied the role of telomere length in skin photoaging (ageing linked to sun exposure), but this appears to be the first study looking at telomere length and skin ageing in the wider population.

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