PhD ceremony: Ms. L.S.M. Wong, 16.15 uur, Aula Academiegebouw, Broerstraat 5, Groningen
Dissertation: Ageing, telomeres, and heart failure
Promotor(s): prof. D.J. van Veldhuisen, prof. W.H. van Gilst
Faculty: Medical Sciences
Chronic heart failure (CHF) is a disease affecting millions worldwide. Although medical research has identified several risk factors for CHF, its precise mechanisms of development and progression are not entirely clear. Telomeres are the distal ends of DNA and shorten during lifetime. Therefore telomere length is regarded as a marker for biological age. Recently, literature has shown that short telomeres are associated with CHF. In the thesis we investigated whether the nature of this association is causal.
Our investigation confirmed that CHF patients have shorter telomere length than healthy, age-matched controls. CHF patients thus seem to be biological older. In addition, we also showed that healthy offspring of CHF patients have shorter telomeres than healthy offspring of healthy controls. This suggests that the still healthy offspring of CHF patients might be more vulnerable to develop CHF, alleged that there is a causal relationship between short telomeres and CHF. Also, we have demonstrated in a large population based investigation that classical risk factors for CHF – hypercholesterolaemia, high blood glucose, overweight, and smoking – are determinants of pace of telomere shortening. This implies that a healthy life style, that decreases the risk of developing any of the mentioned risk factors, may decrease the pace of telomere shortening and consequently the risk of developing CHF.
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