Telomere shortening in liver transplant recipients is not influenced by underlying disease or metabolic derangements

Orit Uziel, Ido Laish, Marina Bulcheniko, Yael Harif, Naama Kochavi-Shalem, Maya Aharoni, Rony Braunstein, Meir Lahav, Ziv Ben-Ari*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


Background: Telomeres are non-coding regions of DNA that cap the ends of chromosomes. Their length is considered a marker of human replicative senescence and premature aging. Given the high association of liver transplantation with the metabolic syndrome, we hypothesized that liver transplant recipients may exhibit premature and accelerated aging. Material/Methods: Telomere length in peripheral blood lymphocytes was measured by polymerase chain reaction in 62 consecutive liver-transplant recipients and 59 healthy control subjects aged 20-76 years. Clinical and laboratory parameters were collected from the medical files. Results: The liver transplant recipients were significantly older than the control subjects (p=0.012), with significantly higher rates of obesity (BMI >30 kg/m2), dyslipidemia, hypertension, diabetes, and fatty liver. Mean telomere length was significantly shorter in the transplant group (0.59±0.6 vs. 1.91±1.78 in the controls, p<0.0001). Within the transplant group, there was no significant association between mean telomere length and underlying liver disease or presence of the metabolic syndrome or its constituents. On multivariate analysis, telomere length was negatively associated with patient age (p=0.0001), male sex (p=0.04), acute rejection (p=0.005), and fatty liver (p=0.009), and was positively associated with time from transplantation (p=0.006). Conclusions: Liver transplantation is associated with shortened telomere length in peripheral blood lymphocytes, suggesting accelerated senescence.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)567-575
Number of pages9
JournalAnnals of Transplantation
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2013


  • Liver
  • Telomeres
  • Transplant


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