Leukocyte telomere length in healthy caucasian and african-american adolescents: Relationships with race, sex, adiposity, adipokines, and physical activity

Haidong Zhu, Xiaoling Wang, Bernard Gutin, Catherine L. Davis, Daniel Keeton, Jeffrey Thomas, Inger Stallmann-Jorgensen, Grace Mooken, Vanessa Bundy, Harold Snieder, Pim Van Der Harst, Yanbin Dong

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

94 Scopus citations


Objective: To examine the relationships of race, sex, adiposity, adipokines, and physical activity to telomere length in adolescents. Study design: Leukocyte telomere length (T/S ratio) was assessed cross-sectionally in 667 adolescents (aged 14-18 years; 48% African-Americans; 51% girls) using a quantitative polymerase chain reaction method. Generalized estimating equations analyses were performed. Results: Telomere length was greater in the African-American adolescents than in the Caucasian adolescents (age- and sex-adjusted T/S ratio ± SE, 1.32 ± 0.01 vs 1.27 ± 0.01: P = .014) and greater in girls than in boys (age- and race-adjusted T/S ratio ± SE, 1.31 ± 0.01 vs 1.27 ± 0.01; P = .007). None of the adiposity or adipokine measures explained a significant proportion of the variance in telomere length. Vigorous physical activity was positively associated with telomere length (adjusted R2 = 0.019; P = .009) and accounted for 1.9% of the total variance only in girls. Conclusions: This study, conducted in a biracial adolescent cohort, demonstrated that (1) race and sex differences in telomere length have already emerged during adolescence; (2) adiposity and adipokines are not associated with telomere length at this age; and (3) the antiaging effect of vigorous physical activity may begin in youth, especially in girls.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)215-220
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Pediatrics
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Feb 1 2011


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health

Cite this