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Trudeau MA, Wong JMY. Genetic variations in telomere maintenance, with implications on tissue renewal capacity and chronic disease pathologies. Curr Pharmacogenomics Person Med. 2010;8:7–24. This is a clear, broad summary of the value of telomere biology for age-related human disease, particularly those that not only involve the expected, gradual loss of telomere length over the course of the human lifespan, but also those diseases that involve faulty telomere maintenance. They review several known abnormalities of telomerase maintenance and the implications for human disease, particularly chronic inflammatory disease, as well as the implications for translational research and intervention.
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Willeit P, Willeit J, Brandstatter A, Ehrlenbach S, Mayr A, Gasperi A, Weger S, Oberhollenzer F, Reindl M, Kronenberg F, Kiechl A. Cellular aging reflected by leukocyte telomere length predicts advanced atherosclerosis and cardiovascular disease risk. Arterioscler Thromb Vasc Biol. 2010;30:1649–56.
Hoffmann J, Spyridopoulos I. Telomere length in cardiovascular disease: new challenges in measuring this marker of cardiovascular aging. Futur Cardiol. 2011;7:789–803.
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Calvert PA, Liew TV, Gorenne I, Clarke M, Costopoulus C, Obaid DR, O’Sullivan M, Shapiro LM, McNab DC, Densem CG, Schofield PM, Braganza D, Clarke SC, Ray KK, West NEJ, Bennett MR. Leukocyte telomere length is associated with high-risk plaques on virtual histology intravascular ultrasound and increased proinflammatory activity. Arterioscler Thromb Vasc Biol. 2001;31:2157–64.
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O'Donovan A, Pantell MS, Puterman E, Dhabhar FS, Blackburn EH, Yaffe K, Cawthon RM, Opresko PL, Hsueh WC, Satterfield S, Newman AB, Ayonayon HN, Rubin SM, Harris TB, Epel ES. Cumulative inflammatory load is associated with short leukocyte telomere length in the health, aging and body composition study. PLoS One. 2011;6:e19687.
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Sanders JL, Iannaccone A, Boudreau RM, Conley YP, Opesko PL, Hsueh WC, Cummings SR, Cawthon RM, Harris TB, Nalls MA, Kritchevsky SB, Newman AB. The association of cataract with leukocyte telomere length in older adults: defining a new marker of aging. J Gerontol A Biol Sci Med Sci. 2011;66A:639–45.
De Jesus BB, Schneeberger K, Vera E, Tejera A, Harley CB, Blasco MA. The telomerase activator TA-65 elongates short telomeres and increases health span of adult old mice without increasing cancer incidence. Aging Cell. 2011;10:604–21. This key research group summarizes their recent work, in which they used a telomerase activator (TA-65, an astragaloside) to elongate short telomeres in mice. Treated mice have less DNA damage than untreated mice, as well as showing increased glucose tolerance, decreased osteoporosis, and improved “skin fitness,” without any increase in their incidence of cancer.
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Harley CB Liu W, Blasco M, Vera E, Andrews WH, Briggs LA, Raffaele JM. A natural product telomerase activator as part of a health maintenance program. Rejuvenation Research. 2011;14:45–56. This is the first reported study of telomere extension as a human clinical intervention, reporting the first year of data from an uncontrolled human trial, begun in 2007, focusing on the immune system. At 6–12 months, the telomerase activator (TA-65, an astragaloside) was shown to lengthen critically short leukocyte telomeres and change the proportion of circulating leukocytes to a more “youthful” profile.