Telomere length in Hepatitis C

Y. Kitay-Cohen, L. Goldberg-Bittman, R. Hadary, M. D. Fejgin, A. Amiel*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Telomeres are nucleoprotein structures located at the termini of chromosomes that protect the chromosomes from fusion and degradation. Hepatocyte cell-cycle turnover may be a primary mechanism of telomere shortening in hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection, inducing fibrosis and cellular senescence. HCV infection has been recognized as potential cause of B-cell lymphoma and hepatocellular carcinoma. The present study sought to assess relative telomere length in leukocytes from patients with chronic HCV infection, patients after eradication of HCV infection (in remission), and healthy controls. A novel method of manual evaluation was applied. Leukocytes derived from 22 patients with chronic HCV infection and age- and sex-matched patients in remission and healthy control subjects were subjected to a fluorescence-in-situ protocol (DAKO) to determine telomere fluorescence intensity and number. The relative, manual, analysis of telomere length was validated against findings on applied spectral imaging (ASI) in a random sample of study and control subjects. Leukocytes from patients with chronic HCV infection had shorter telomeres than leukocytes from patients in remission and healthy controls. On statistical analysis, more cells with low signal intensity on telomere FISH had shorter telomeres whereas more cells with high signal intensity had longer telomeres. The findings were corroborated by the ASI telomere software. Telomere shortening in leukocytes from patients with active HCV infection is probably due to the lower overall telomere level rather than higher cell cycle turnover. Manual evaluation is an accurate and valid method of assessing relative telomere length between patients with chronic HCV infection and healthy subjects.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)34-38
Number of pages5
JournalCancer Genetics and Cytogenetics
Issue number1
StatePublished - Nov 2008


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