European Journal of Nutrition

, Volume 56, Issue 3, pp 1045–1052 | Cite as

Association between leukocyte telomere length and serum carotenoid in US adults

Original Contribution

Abstract

Purpose

Telomere length is a biomarker for aging. It is known that oxidative stress can accelerate telomere shortening, whereas antioxidants can delay their shortening. Carotenoids as antioxidants are favorably associated with health- and aging-related diseases caused by oxidative stress, but their association with telomere length is less certain. We investigated the association between blood carotenoid levels and leukocyte telomere length in a representative sample of US adults.

Methods

We analyzed 3660 participants aged 20 years and older in the 1999–2002 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. The levels of carotenoids—alpha-carotene, beta-carotene (trans + cis), beta-cryptoxanthin, combined lutein/zeaxanthin, and trans-lycopene—were measured using high-performance liquid chromatography. The leukocyte telomere length (T/S ratio) was assayed using the quantitative polymerase chain reaction method.

Results

A doubling of blood alpha-carotene, beta-carotene (trans + cis), and beta-cryptoxanthin was associated with approximately 2 % longer telomeres. Compared with the lowest carotenoid quartile of alpha-carotene, beta-carotene (trans + cis), and beta-cryptoxanthin, telomere length for adults with the highest quartiles was significantly increased by 5–8 %.

Conclusion

We found that increasing levels of blood carotenoid were significantly associated with longer leukocyte telomeres in US adults. High intake of carotenoid-rich food may play a role in protecting telomeres and regulating telomere length.

Keywords

Telomere Oxidative stress Carotenoid Antioxidant 

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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Environmental Medicine, College of MedicineSeoul National UniversitySeoulRepublic of Korea
  2. 2.Institute of Health and Environment, School of Public HealthSeoul National UniversitySeoulRepublic of Korea

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