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Telomere length in blood and skeletal muscle in relation to measures of glycaemia and insulinaemia.

  • Shafqat Ahmad
  • A Heraclides
  • Q Sun
  • Targ Elgzyri
  • Tina Rönn
  • Charlotte Ling
  • B Isomaa
  • Karl-Fredrik Eriksson
  • Leif Groop
  • Paul Franks
  • Ola Hansson
Publishing year: 2012
Language: English
Pages: 377-381
Publication/Series: Diabetic medicine : a journal of the British Diabetic Association
Volume: 29
Issue: 10
Document type: Journal article
Publisher: Wiley-Blackwell

Abstract english


Skeletal muscle is a major metabolic organ and plays important roles in glucose metabolism, insulin sensitivity and insulin action. Muscle telomere length reflects the myocyte's exposure to harmful environmental factors. Leukocyte telomere length is considered a marker of muscle telomere length and is used in epidemiologic studies to assess associations with ageing-related diseases where muscle physiology is important. However, the extent to which leucocyte and muscle telomere length are correlated is unknown, as are their relative correlations with glucose and insulin concentrations. The purpose of this study was to determine the extent of these relationships.


Leucocyte and muscle telomere length were measured by quantitative real-time polymerase chain reaction in participants from the Malmö Exercise Intervention (n = 27) and the Prevalence, Prediction and Prevention of Diabetes-Botnia studies (n = 31). Participants in both studies were free from Type 2 diabetes. We assessed the association between leucocyte telomere length, muscle telomere length and metabolic traits using Spearmen correlations and multivariate linear regression. Bland-Altman analysis was used to assess agreement between leucocyte and muscle telomere length.


In age-, study-, diabetes family history- and sex-adjusted models, leucocyte and muscle telomere length were positively correlated (r = 0.39, 95% CI 0.15-0.59). Leucocyte telomere length was inversely associated with 2-h glucose concentrations (r = -0.58, 95% CI -1.0 to -0.16), but there was no correlation between muscle telomere length and 2-h glucose concentrations (r = 0.05, 95% CI -0.35 to 0.46) or between leucocyte or muscle telomere length with other metabolic traits.


In summary, the current study supports the use of leucocyte telomere length as a proxy for muscle telomere length in epidemiological studies of Type 2 diabetes aetiology.


  • Endocrinology and Diabetes


  • Genetic and Molecular Epidemiology
  • Diabetes and Endocrinology
  • Epigenetics and Diabetes
  • Clinical Vascular Disease Research
  • ISSN: 1464-5491
Paul Franks
E-mail: paul [dot] franks [at] med [dot] lu [dot] se

Principal investigator

Genetic and Molecular Epidemiology

+46 40 39 11 49



Lund University Diabetes Centre, CRC, SUS Malmö, Entrance 72, House 91:12. SE-205 02 Malmö. Telephone: +46 40 39 10 00