What are Telomeres?
Telomeres are part of our DNA and are found at the ends of chromosomes. Their function is to protect our DNA during each cell division by preventing chromosomes from adhering to each other or from losing important information.
Telomeres are made up of repetitions of a specific base pattern (TTAGGG) that does not encode information. The more repeats present, the longer the telomere length.
Over time, and with each cell division, our telomeres successively shorten until they reach a point where their length is critical, and the cells cannot divide any more. They then either undergo a process called apoptosis (programmed cell death) or go into senescence (loss of function) (1).
Many studies link long telomeres and a slower rate of telomere shortening with greater longevity. For example, research done on mice showed that individuals with hyperlong telomeres not only lived 13% longer than those with normal telomeres, but they also stored less fat which also contributed to greater longevity (2).
Due to the impact they have at the cellular level, the length of telomeres and their rate of shortening is considered a relevant biomarker for assessing the state of aging of the entire organism.
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