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Telomere biology in cardiovascular disease

13 June 2011

PhD ceremony: Mr. J. Huzen, 13.15 uur, Doopsgezinde kerk, Oude Boteringestraat 33, Groningen

Dissertation: Telomere biology in cardiovascular disease

Promotor(s): prof. W.H. van Gilst, prof. D.J. van Veldhuisen

Faculty: Medical Sciences


Telomeres form the distal end of chromosomes and protect genes from damage. Telomeres erode in the presence of detrimental factors and shorten during every cellular division. When telomeres become too short, they lose their protective properties. Therefore, telomere length is regarded as a marker for biological age. Researchers at the UMCG had already shown that patients with heart failure have shorter telomeres than healthy controls. This thesis adds to the findings that patients with heart failure and short telomeres also feel less healthy. Not only patients with heart failure, but also patients with vascular disease have shorter telomeres. Patients who had been operated upon for a stenosis of the carotid artery, showed an increased risk for recurrence of the stenosis when their telomeres were shorter. Telomere lengths in blood cells as well as in the blood vessel cells were measured in a large group of subjects. A striking observation was that telomeres in different tissues of the same person showed substantial differences in length. This implies that merely measuring telomere length in the blood is insufficient to inform us about the telomere length of vascular- or heart tissue. Establishing the relation between telomere shortening and cardiovascular disease is of great importance to develop new therapies.


Last modified:15 September 2017 3.40 p.m.

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