Telomere Length in Cystic Fibrosis Patients – Are Patients with CF Ageing Too Quickly?


Telomere Length in Cystic Fibrosis Patients – Are Patients with CF Ageing Too Quickly?


Iona Ashworth1, Kevin Norris1 ,Lena Thia2, John A Dodge3, Julia W. Grimstead1, Rhiannon E. Jones1, Julian Forton2, Ann Smith5, Daniel Farewell5, Duncan M. Baird1, Jamie Duckers4

1Division of Cancer and Genetics, School of Medicine, Cardiff University, Cardiff, CF14 4XN
2 Noah’s Ark Children’s Hospital, University Hospital Wales, Cardiff UK CF14 2XX
3 Department of Paediatrics, Swansea University
4 All Wales Adult CF Centre, University Hospital Llandough, UK CF64 2XX
5 Division of Population Medicine, School of Medicine, Cardiff University, Cardiff, CF14 4YS


Life expectancy for patients living with Cystic Fibrosis (CF) is increasing year on year and there is growing interest in the ageing process in CF. Telomeres are repetitive sequences of DNA that cap the ends of eukaryotic chromosomes and shorten with ongoing cell division, thus providing a marker of replicative history and biological ageing. We aimed to investigate whether telomere length as a function of age differs between patients with CF and healthy individuals and whether telomere length is associated with severity of the patient’s CF condition.

Peripheral blood samples and demographic data were collected from 47 consenting patients (age 1 to 57 years) with CF attending their routine annual review appointment at the All Wales Adult CF Centre and Noah’s Ark Children’s’ Hospital in Cardiff, UK. Telomere length profiles were assessed from peripheral blood samples, using the high resolution single telomere length analysis technique (STELA) and compared to healthy control telomere length data.

Patients with CF had significantly shorter telomere lengths than healthy individuals, when adjusting for age (p<0.001). Telomere length is decreasing 70% more quickly in the CF cohort than healthy controls. Telomere length does not appear to correlate with markers of disease severity.

Telomere lengths are significantly shorter in individuals with CF than in the age-adjusted healthy population. This is suggestive of premature biological ageing of peripheral blood leukocytes in CF patients.


Keywords: Ageing, telomere, inflammation


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How to cite this article:
Iona Ashworth, Kevin Norris ,Lena Thia, John A Dodge, Julia W. Grimstead, Rhiannon E. Jones, Julian Forton, Ann Smith, Daniel Farewell, Duncan M. Baird, Jamie Duckers.Telomere Length in Cystic Fibrosis Patients – Are Patients with CF Ageing Too Quickly? . International Journal of Aging Research, 2021, 4:90. DOI: 10.28933/ijoar-2021-06-2005


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