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Leukocyte and Skeletal Muscle Telomere Length and Body Composition in Monozygotic Twin Pairs Discordant for Long-term Hormone Replacement Therapy

  • Elina Sillanpää (a1), Paula Niskala (a1), Eija K. Laakkonen (a1), Elodie Ponsot (a2), Markku Alén (a3) (a4), Jaakko Kaprio (a5) (a6) (a7), Fawzi Kadi (a2), Vuokko Kovanen (a1) and Sarianna Sipilä (a1)...


Estrogen-based hormone replacement therapy (HRT) may be associated with deceleration of cellular aging. We investigated whether long-term HRT has effects on leukocyte (LTL) or mean and minimum skeletal muscle telomere length (SMTL) in a design that controls for genotype and childhood environment. Associations between telomeres, body composition, and physical performance were also examined. Eleven monozygotic twin pairs (age 57.6 ± 1.8 years) discordant for HRT were studied. Mean duration of HRT use was 7.3 ± 3.7 years in the user sister, while their co-twins had never used HRT. LTL was measured by qPCR and SMTLs by southern blot. Body and muscle composition were estimated by bioimpedance and computed tomography, respectively. Physical performance was measured by jumping height and grip strength. HRT users and non-users did not differ in LTL or mean or minimum SMTL. Within-pair correlations were high in LTL (r = 0.69, p = .020) and in mean (r = 0.74, p = .014) and minimum SMTL (r = 0.88, p = .001). Body composition and performance were better in users than non-users. In analyses of individuals, LTL was associated with BMI (r 2 = 0.30, p = .030), percentage total body (r 2 = 0.43, p = .014), and thigh (r 2 = 0.55, p = .004) fat, while minimum SMTL was associated with fat-free mass (r 2 = 0.27, p = .020) and thigh muscle area (r 2 = 0.42, p = .016). We found no associations between HRT use and telomere length. Longer LTLs were associated with lower total and regional fat, while longer minimum SMTLs were associated with higher fat-free mass and greater thigh muscle area. This suggests that telomeres measured from different tissues may have different associations with measures of body composition.

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Corresponding author

address for correspondence: Elina Sillanpää, PhD, Docent, Gerontology Research Center, Faculty of Sport and Health Sciences, University of Jyväskylä, P.O. Box 35 (VIV), FIN-40014 Jyväskylä, Finland. E-mail:


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These authors contributed equally to this work.



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Leukocyte and Skeletal Muscle Telomere Length and Body Composition in Monozygotic Twin Pairs Discordant for Long-term Hormone Replacement Therapy

  • Elina Sillanpää (a1), Paula Niskala (a1), Eija K. Laakkonen (a1), Elodie Ponsot (a2), Markku Alén (a3) (a4), Jaakko Kaprio (a5) (a6) (a7), Fawzi Kadi (a2), Vuokko Kovanen (a1) and Sarianna Sipilä (a1)...


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