Heart-Breaking Telomeres

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Telomeres, the protective ends of linear chromosomes, shorten throughout an individual’s lifetime. Accumulation of critically short telomeres is proposed to be a primary molecular cause of aging and age-associated diseases. Mutations in telomere maintenance genes are associated with pathologies referred to as or telomeropathies. The rate of telomere shortening throughout life is determined by endogenous (genetic) and external (nongenetic) factors. Therapeutic strategies based on telomerase activation are being developed to treat and prevent telomere-associated diseases, namely aging-related diseases and telomeropathies. Here, we review the molecular mechanisms underlying telomere driven diseases with particular emphasis on cardiovascular diseases.

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