Celiac disease autoimmunity is associated with leukocyte telomere shortening in older adults: The U.S. National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey

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Abstract

Purpose:

Telomeres are nucleotide sequences, and their function is to maintain cell surveillance. Exaggeration of the attrition rate of leukocyte telomere length (LTL) may result in genomic instability and tumorigenesis. Celiac disease (CD), an autoimmune inflammation of small intestine, has increasing prevalence in the elderly and may lead to lymphomas and gastrointestinal malignancies. We used nationally-representative datasets from the U.S. National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) to investigate if CD autoimmunity in older adults (age ≥ 50 years) is associated with shorter LTL.

Results:

Our study included 3939 subjects, where 25 subjects (mean age 65 years) were CD seropositive and 3914 (mean age 64 years) were CD seronegative. CD seropositive subjects had shorter LTL than CD seronegative subjects (P < 0.001). In the linear regression model, CD seropositivity was significantly associated with 0.25 kb pairs decrease in LTL length (P < 0.001), adjusted for age, sex, race/ethnicity, serum ferritin and folate, and ratio of family income to poverty.

Conclusions:

In a nationally-representative population of adults age ≥ 50 years, CD seropositivity is significantly associated with shorter LTL, independently of age, sex, race/ethnicity, serum ferritin and folate, and socioeconomic status. This supports the enhanced telomere attrition in of CD seropositive adults.

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