Calcified Tissue International

, Volume 95, Issue 1, pp 54–63 | Cite as

Inflammation, Telomere Length, and Grip Strength: A 10-year Longitudinal Study

  • Daniel Baylis
  • Georgia Ntani
  • Mark H. Edwards
  • Holly E. Syddall
  • David B. Bartlett
  • Elaine M. Dennison
  • Carmen Martin-Ruiz
  • Thomas von Zglinicki
  • Diana Kuh
  • Janet M. Lord
  • Avan Aihie Sayer
  • Cyrus CooperEmail author
Original Research


Telomere attrition has been associated with age-related diseases, although causality is unclear and controversial; low-grade systemic inflammation (inflammaging) has also been implicated in age-related pathogenesis. Unpicking the relationship between aging, telomere length (TL), and inflammaging is hence essential to the understanding of aging and management of age-related diseases. This longitudinal study explored whether telomere attrition is a cause or consequence of aging and whether inflammaging explains some of the associations between TL and one marker of aging, grip strength. We studied 253 Hertfordshire Ageing Study participants at baseline and 10-year follow-up (mean age at baseline 67.1 years). Participants completed a health questionnaire and had blood samples collected for immune–endocrine and telomere analysis at both time points. Physical aging was characterized at follow-up using grip strength. Faster telomere attrition was associated with lower grip strength at follow-up (β = 0.98, p = 0.035). This association was completely attenuated when adjusted for inflammaging burden (p = 0.86) over the same period. Similarly, greater inflammaging burden was associated with lower grip strength at follow-up (e.g., interleukin [IL]-1β: β = −2.18, p = 0.001). However, these associations were maintained when adjusted for telomere attrition (IL-1β, p = 0.006). We present evidence that inflammaging may be driving telomere attrition and in part explains the associations that have previously been reported between TL and grip strength. Thus, biomarkers of physical aging, such as inflammaging, may require greater exploration. Further work is now indicated.


Aging Epidemiology Grip strength Inflammation Osteoporosis Sarcopenia Telomere 



This work was funded by the Medical Research Council, the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council, and the University of Southampton, Southampton, United Kingdom. The Hertfordshire Cohort Study was supported the Medical Research Council of Great Britain; Arthritis Research UK; and the International Osteoporosis Foundation. This work was also supported by the NIHR Nutrition BRU, University of Southampton, and the NIHR Musculoskeletal BRU, University of Oxford. We thank all of the men and women who took part in the Hertfordshire Cohort Study; the HCS Research Staff; Vanessa Cox, who managed the data; and Gill Strange, who prepared the document

Human and Animal Rights and Informed Consent

This article does not contain any studies with human or animal subjects performed by any of the authors.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Daniel Baylis
    • 1
    • 2
  • Georgia Ntani
    • 1
  • Mark H. Edwards
    • 1
  • Holly E. Syddall
    • 1
  • David B. Bartlett
    • 3
  • Elaine M. Dennison
    • 1
  • Carmen Martin-Ruiz
    • 4
  • Thomas von Zglinicki
    • 4
  • Diana Kuh
    • 5
  • Janet M. Lord
    • 3
  • Avan Aihie Sayer
    • 1
    • 2
  • Cyrus Cooper
    • 1
    • 6
    • 7
    Email author
  1. 1.MRC Lifecourse Epidemiology UnitUniversity of Southampton, Southampton General HospitalSouthamptonUK
  2. 2.Academic Geriatric Medicine, School of MedicineUniversity of SouthamptonSouthamptonUK
  3. 3.MRC-ARUK Centre for Musculoskeletal Ageing ResearchUniversity of BirminghamBirminghamUK
  4. 4.Institute for Ageing and HealthUniversity of Newcastle Upon TyneNewcastle Upon TyneUK
  5. 5.MRC Unit for Lifelong Health and AgeingUniversity College LondonLondonUK
  6. 6.NIHR Nutrition Biomedical Research CentreUniversity of Southampton and University Hospital Southampton NHS Trust, Southampton General HospitalSouthamptonUK
  7. 7.NIHR Musculoskeletal Biomedical Research Unit, Nuffield Department of Orthopaedics, Rheumatology and Musculoskeletal ScienceUniversity of OxfordOxfordUK

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