What is a Telomere?
Telomeres are an essential part of human cells that affect how our cells age.
Telomeres are the caps at the end of each strand of DNA that protect our chromosomes, like the plastic tips at the end of shoelaces.
Without the coating, DNA strands become damaged and our cells can’t do their job.
Telomeres protect the vital information in our DNA.
DNA makes up all of the cells in our body. And every organ in our body (skin, liver, heart, etc.) is made up of cells and each cell with nucleus there is DNA as a “software”. So, telomeres are vital to our health that protect the DNA.
Our cells replenish by copying themselves. This happens constantly throughout our lives. Telomeres get shorter each time a cell copies or replicate itself, but the important DNA stays intact.
Eventually, telomeres get too short to do their job, causing our cells to age and stop functioning properly. Therefore, telomeres act as the aging clock in every cell.
Telomeres are shortened as we age, but telomeres can also be shortened by stress, smoking, obesity, lack of exercise and a poor diet
Short telomeres are connected to premature cellular aging.
Telomere shortening is involved in all aspects of the aging process on a cellular level. Telomere length represents our biological age as opposed to our chronological (birth-day) age.
Many scientific studies have shown a strong connection between short telomeres and cellular aging.
For example, the immune system, which normally weakens as we age, is highly sensitive to shortening of telomeres.
Scientists know a lot about telomeres, and they continue to find new evidence about the role telomeres play in the aging process on a cellular level
Telomere and cellular aging
Scientists made the link between telomeres and cellular aging nearly 30 years ago.
In 2009, the Nobel Prize for Physiology/Medicine was awarded to three scientists Elizabeth H. Blackburn, Carol W. Greider and Jack W. Szostak for the discovery of :
“how chromosomes are protected
by telomeres and the enzyme telomerase“
who discovered how an enzyme called telomerase impacts telomere length.
A 2010 study from Harvard Medical School showed telomere shortening to be a root cause of cellular aging.1
The present and future
There are products in the market that increase Telomeres length. More and more research is on-going, some are ready for consumer consumption.
Research on Telomere
There are more than 10,000 scientific articles published about telomeres.
An ever increasing number of scientists continue to study telomeres and the benefits of stopping or possibly reversing the telomere shortening that happens as we age.
- Jaskelioff M, et al. Telomerase reactivation reverses tissue degeneration in aged telomerase-deficient mice. Nature. 2011;469:102–107.
- Sahin E, DePinho RA. Linking functional decline of telomeres, mitochondria and stem cells during ageing. Nature. 2010;464:520–528.
- Blackburn EH, Epel ES. Comment: Too toxic to ignore. Nature. 2012;490:169–171.
- Eisenberg DTA. An evolutionary review of human telomere biology: the thrifty telomere hypothesis and notes on potential adaptive paternal effects. American Journal of Human Biology. 2011;23:149–167.
- Oeseburg H, et al. Telomere biology in healthy aging and disease. Pflügers Archiv – European Journal of Physiology. 2010;459:259–268.
- Aubert G, Lansdorp PM. Telomeres and aging. Physiological Reviews. 2008;88:557–579.
- Ornish D. Effect of comprehensive lifestyle changes on telomerase activity and telomere length in men with biopsy-proven low-risk prostate cancer: 5-year follow-up of a descriptive pilot study. The Lancet Oncology. 2013;14(11):1112–1120.
- Armanios M, Blackburn EH. The telomere syndromes. Nature Reviews Genetics. 2012;13:693–704.
- Kaszubowska L. Telomere shortening and ageing of the immune system. Journal of Physiology and Pharmacology. 2008;59(Suppl 9):169–186.
- Valdes AM, et al. Telomere length in leukocytes correlates with bone mineral density and is shorter in women with osteoporosis. Osteoporosis International. 2007;18(9)1203–1210.
- Valdes AM, et al. Obesity, cigarette smoking, and telomere length in women. The Lancet. 2005;366(964)662–664.