Telomere Length Testing

The length of telomeres is an indicator of biological aging and gives insight into the risk for age-related disease. 

Telomeres are the end pieces of our chromosomes – and just as the plastic and caps on our shoelaces prevents the laces from fraying, the telomeres protect our chromosomes from fraying, thus help to keep our DNA stable.  However, with each cell division, the telomeres decrease in length.  Biologist Leonard Hayflick, in the 1960s, discovered that over the course of about 50 divisions the telomeres become so short that cell division can no longe occur and reaches what is now called the, “Hayflick limit.”  At that point the cell no longer divides and it becomes senescent; that is, it loses function and dies or, lives but becomes a “zombie” cell.  the accumulation of senescent cells causes aging.  

Telomeres can be prematurely shorten due to oxidation, inflammation and stress.  These conditions reduce the protective effect of telomeres, damage DNA, and contribute to early cell death associated with numerous degenerative diseases. 

In the human body the enzyme telomerase counteracts the shortening of telomeres.  The good news is that lifestyle choices aim at reducing inflammation may help delay telomere shortening. 

Health issues associated with telomere shortening include Alzheimer’s disease, ADHD, Cardiovascular disease, Diabetes, obesity, Immune dysfunction, Inflammation related conditions, Inflammation related condition, Osteoporosis, rheumatoid arthritis. 

How Is Telomere Test Done?

A simple blood draw is all you need.  DNA from white blood cell is analyzed by quantitative real-time polymerase chain reaction (qPCR) to determine the average leukocyte telomere length value by comparing the number o nucleotide repeats of the telomere against a single copy reference gene.  The result is then compared to an age-matched population. 

The telomere score is based on your average telomere length compared to telomere lengths from individuals of the same age range.