Research links telomere length to emphysema risk
Telomeres, the body's own cellular clocks, may be a crucial factor underlying the development of emphysema, according to research from Johns Hopkins University.
"We found that in mice that have short telomeres, there was a significant increased risk of developing emphysema after exposure to cigarette smoke," said Mary Armanios, MD, assistant professor of oncology at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine.
The study appears online ahead of the print edition of the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine.
Telomeres are DNA protein structures that protect chromosome ends from degradation. Their length is genetically determined, but they also shorten progressively with cell division. Short telomeres are considered one marker of ageing in cells.
"With age, short telomeres accumulate and cause cells to stop dividing. Telomeres can be thought of as 'biological clocks,'" Dr. Armanios explained. "We wanted to determine whether telomere length itself was why susceptibility to emphysema increases with age."
Dr. Armanios and her colleagues examined the role of telomeres in lung disease by studying mice that have shortened telomeres. The mice were exposed to cigarette smoke for six hours a day, five days a week for six months.
The researchers then analyzed the lung tissue and pulmonary function of the mice. "Although the mice had no lung disease at baseline, after exposure to cigarette smoke, they surprisingly developed emphysema. In contrast, mice with long telomeres did not develop lung disease during our experiments," said Dr. Armanios.
In emphysema, alveoli, the small air sacs where oxygen exchange occurs, are permanently lost. Emphysema changes are normally found in older individuals, and occasionally even in those who have never smoked. But they are most commonly found in smokers.
Emphysema is a common cause of disability, and among the top 10 causes of mortality in the United States, it remains on the increase. While smoking cigarettes is the most common risk factor, it is not known why some people are more prone to developing emphysema than others. There are currently no available medical treatments, and affected individuals often require lung transplantation.
"We found that cells with damaged DNA stopped dividing, and lung cells with too much damage could no longer be repaired, thus contributing to the emphysema," she continued. "These results are one of the clearest examples of telomere length, which is an inherited factor, interacting with an environmental insult to cause disease. In fact, our results in mice suggest that short telomeres might contribute to how cigarette smoke accelerates aging in the lung in some individuals."
Dr. Armanios hopes that this new research will lead into new insights into identifying new ways to preserve lung function with age.
"It's important to remember that there is no good reason to smoke and the best way to prevent emphysema is to stop smoking," she said.
Previously, Dr. Armanios and her group had shown that shortened telomeres cause a disease known as idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF), a disorder of unrelenting scarring in the lung. IPF occurs with emphysema in some individuals, and the incidence of both disorders increases with age and with smoking. "By linking telomere length to both disorders, there is now clear suggestion that they may share a common mechanism that can be traced to telomeres."
Further research must be done to confirm that the observed findings are applicable to humans, and, if so, what mechanisms might underlie them. "Now that we have examined the question of susceptibility in a rigorous genetic model, we can begin to study how telomere length affects emphysema risk in susceptible populations."
Provided by American Thoracic Society
- Scientists link DNA 'end-caps' length to diabetes risk Mar 24, 2011 | not rated yet | 0
- New research uncovers genetic link between emphysema, lung cancer Jun 09, 2011 | not rated yet | 0
- Researchers identify gene linked to inherited form of fatal lung disease Dec 19, 2008 | not rated yet | 0
- Protein could offer target to reduce lung damage from smoking-caused emphysema May 16, 2011 | not rated yet | 0
- Telomere length affects colorectal cancer risk Oct 28, 2010 | not rated yet | 0
- Motion perception revisited: High Phi effect challenges established motion perception assumptions Apr 23, 2013 | 3 / 5 (2) | 2
- Anything you can do I can do better: Neuromolecular foundations of the superiority illusion (Update) Apr 02, 2013 | 4.5 / 5 (11) | 5
- The visual system as economist: Neural resource allocation in visual adaptation Mar 30, 2013 | 5 / 5 (2) | 9
- Separate lives: Neuronal and organismal lifespans decoupled Mar 27, 2013 | 4.9 / 5 (8) | 0
- Sizing things up: The evolutionary neurobiology of scale invariance Feb 28, 2013 | 4.8 / 5 (10) | 14
How can there be villous adenoma in colon, if there are no villi there
2 hours ago As title suggest. Thanks :smile:
How can there be a term called "intestinal metaplasia" of stomach
May 21, 2013 Hello everyone, Ok Stomach's normal epithelium is simple columnar, now in intestinal type of adenocarcinoma of stomach it undergoes "intestinal...
Pressure-volume curve: Elastic Recoil Pressure don't make sense
May 18, 2013 From pressure-volume curve of the lung and chest wall (attached photo), I don't understand why would the elastic recoil pressure of the lung is...
If you became brain-dead, would you want them to pull the plug?
May 17, 2013 I'd want the rest of me to stay alive. Sure it's a lousy way to live but it beats being all-the-way dead. Maybe if I make it 20 years they'll...
MRI bill question
May 15, 2013 Dear PFers, The hospital gave us a $12k bill for one MRI (head with contrast). The people I talked to at the hospital tell me that they do not...
Ratio of Hydrogen of Oxygen in Dessicated Animal Protein
May 13, 2013 As an experiment, for the past few months I've been consuming at least one portion of Jell-O or unflavored Knox gelatin per day. I'm 64, in very...
- More from Physics Forums - Medical Sciences
More news stories
On May 22, JoVE will publish details of a technique to measure the health of human genetic material in relation to a patient's age. The method is demonstrated by the laboratory of Dr. Gil Atzmon at New York's Albert Einste ...
Medical research 15 minutes ago | not rated yet | 0
(Medical Xpress)—Scientists supported by the National Institutes of Health have a new theory as to why a woman's fertility declines after her mid-30s. They also suggest an approach that might help slow ...
Medical research 1 hour ago | not rated yet | 0 |
Medical researchers discover new ways to target, develop and design drugs to prevent and treat viral infection
Researchers at the University of Alberta have discovered a new drug target, developed a new drug and identified a new way to design drugs—all of which could be a winning combination in the battle against viruses.
Medical research 2 hours ago | 4 / 5 (1) | 0 |
New research at The University of Nottingham aimed at preventing harmful blood clots associated with heart disease and stroke has recently received a major funding boost from the British Heart Foundation.
Medical research 2 hours ago | not rated yet | 0
Italian lawmakers on Wednesday gave their final approval to a law that allows limited use of a controversial type of stem cell therapy which has been condemned by many scientists but has given hope to families of terminally-ill ...
Medical research 2 hours ago | 5 / 5 (1) | 1
Research presented today shows that high-fructose corn syrup can cause behavioural reactions in rats similar to those produced by drugs of abuse such as cocaine. These results, presented by addiction expert Francesco Leri, ...
16 minutes ago | not rated yet | 0
The DESolve bioresorbable coronary scaffold system achieves good efficacy and safety with low rates of late lumen loss and major coronary adverse events at six months, show first results from the pivotal DESolve Nx trial ...
48 minutes ago | not rated yet | 0
More than 40 percent of patients being treated for COPD at a federally funded clinic did not have the disease, researchers found after evaluating the patients with spirometry, the diagnostic "gold standard" for chronic obstructive ...
46 minutes ago | not rated yet | 0
Results from a large observational study reported at EuroPCR 2013 today question whether bivalirudin is superior to heparin in the absence of GPIIb/IIIa blockade, showing similar 30-day mortality in patients with non-ST segment ...
46 minutes ago | not rated yet | 0
Blood thinners are the preferred treatment option to prevent heart attacks, blood clots and stroke, but they are not without risk, and not just because of their side effects. These high-risk drugs, known as anticoagulants, ...
43 minutes ago | not rated yet | 0
Study leader, Professor John Mathews from the University of Melbourne said this small increase in cancer risk must be weighed against the undoubted benefits from CT scans in diagnosing and monitoring disease.
43 minutes ago | not rated yet | 0