Leukocyte Telomere Length Is Unrelated to Cognitive Performance among Non-Demented and Demented Persons: An Examination of Long Life Family Study Participants

Adiba Ashrafi, Stephanie Cosentino, Min S. Kang, Joseph H. Lee, Nicole Schupf, Stacy L. Andersen, Kaare Christensen, Michael A. Province, Bharat Thyagarajan, Joseph M. Zmuda, Lawrence S. Honig

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Leukocyte telomere length (LTL) is a widely hypothesized biomarker of biological aging. Persons with shorter LTL may have a greater likelihood of developing dementia. We investigate whether LTL is associated with cognitive function, differently for individuals without cognitive impairment versus individuals with dementia or incipient dementia.Method: Enrolled subjects belong to the Long Life Family Study (LLFS), a multi-generational cohort study, where enrollment was predicated upon exceptional family longevity. Included subjects had valid cognitive and telomere data at baseline. Exclusion criteria were age ≤ 60 years, outlying LTL, and missing sociodemographic/clinical information. Analyses were performed using linear regression with generalized estimating equations, adjusting for sex, age, education, country, generation, and lymphocyte percentage.Results: Older age and male gender were associated with shorter LTL, and LTL was significantly longer in family members than spouse controls (p < 0.005). LTL was not associated with working or episodic memory, semantic processing, and information processing speed for 1613 cognitively unimpaired individuals as well as 597 individuals with dementia or incipient dementia (p < 0.005), who scored significantly lower on all cognitive domains (p < 0.005).Conclusions: Within this unique LLFS cohort, a group of families assembled on the basis of exceptional survival, LTL is unrelated to cognitive ability for individuals with and without cognitive impairment. LTL does not change in the context of degenerative disease for these individuals who are biologically younger than the general population.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)906-917
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of the International Neuropsychological Society
Volume26
Issue number9
DOIs
StatePublished - Oct 1 2020

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The authors declare that the research was conducted in the absence of any commercial or financial relationships that could be construed as a potential conflict of interest. We are grateful to the participants and family members of the LLFS for allowing us to study how they have achieved their longevity. This work was funded by the National Institute on Aging/National Institutes of Health (grant number: U01AG023749).

Keywords

  • Cognition
  • Cognitive aging
  • Cognitive decline
  • Cognitive function
  • Cognitive tests
  • Dementia and longevity
  • Telomere shortening

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