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Telomere Length Associations With Clinical Diagnosis, Age, and Polygenic Risk Scores for Anxiety Disorder, Depression, and Bipolar Disorder

  • Julian Mutz
    Correspondence
    Address correspondence to Julian Mutz, Ph.D.
    Affiliations
    Social, Genetic and Developmental Psychiatry Centre, Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology & Neuroscience, King’s College London, London, United Kingdom
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  • Cathryn M. Lewis
    Affiliations
    Social, Genetic and Developmental Psychiatry Centre, Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology & Neuroscience, King’s College London, London, United Kingdom

    Department of Medical and Molecular Genetics, Faculty of Life Sciences & Medicine, King’s College London, London, United Kingdom
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Open AccessPublished:September 06, 2022DOI:https://doi.org/10.1016/j.bpsgos.2022.08.008

      Abstract

      Background

      Accelerated biological aging might contribute to the lower life expectancy of individuals with mental disorders. The aim of this study was to characterize telomere length, a biological hallmark of aging, in individuals with mental disorders.

      Methods

      The UK Biobank is a multicenter community-based observational study that recruited >500,000 middle-aged and older adults. Average leukocyte telomere length (telomere repeat copy number/single-copy gene ratio) was measured using quantitative polymerase chain reaction. Polygenic risk scores (PRSs) were calculated for individuals of European ancestry. We estimated differences in telomere length between individuals with anxiety disorder, depression, or bipolar disorder and people without mental disorders and examined associations with psychotropic medication use, age, and PRSs for these 3 disorders.

      Results

      The analyses included up to 308,725 participants. Individuals with depression had shorter telomeres than people without mental disorders (β = −0.011, 95% CI, −0.019 to −0.004, Bonferroni-corrected p = .027). Associations between bipolar disorder and telomere length differed by lithium use. There was limited evidence that individuals with an anxiety disorder had shorter telomeres. There was no evidence that associations between age and telomere length differed between individuals with and without these disorders. PRSs for depression, but not anxiety disorder or bipolar disorder, were associated with shorter telomeres (β = −0.006, 95% CI, −0.010 to −0.003, Bonferroni-corrected p = .001).

      Conclusions

      Differences in telomere length were observed primarily for individuals with depression or bipolar disorder and in individuals with a higher PRS for depression. There was no evidence that the association between age and telomere length differed between individuals with and without an anxiety disorder, depression, or bipolar disorder.

      Keywords

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