Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Telomeres may account for common cold frequency

We keep hearing that word, telomeres. Most often linked to longevity, researchers have identified a biological marker in the immune system that -- beginning at about age 22 -- may predict our ability to fight off the common cold. Published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, the study found that the length of telomeres -- protective cap-like protein complexes at the ends of chromosomes -- predicts resistance to upper respiratory infections in young and midlife adults. 

Telomere length is a biomarker of aging with telomeres shortening with increasing chronological age. As a cell's telomeres shorten, it loses its ability to function normally and eventually dies. Having shorter telomeres is associated with early onset of aging related diseases such as cardiovascular disease and cancer, and with mortality in older adults. Unknown until now is whether telomere length plays a role in the health of young to midlife adults.

The increased importance of telomere length with age is likely because the younger participants had fewer very short telomeres, or that their young immune systems were able to compensate for the loss of effective cells.

No comments: