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Vitamin D status and leukocyte telomere length in middle childhood


Short telomere length is associated with chronic diseases and decreased lifespan. Vitamin D and its binding protein (DBP) may maintain telomeres through anti-inflammatory actions, yet the role of vitamin D on telomere length is uncertain, especially in children. We assessed the cross-sectional associations of plasma 25-hydroxy vitamin D (25(OH)D) and DBP with leukocyte telomere length (LTL) in a group of 447 children ages 5–12 years from the Bogotá School Children Cohort. We compared the distribution of age-standardized LTL (z-score) between 25(OH)D categories and between DBP quartiles overall and by sex. Overall, 25(OH)D was not significantly associated with LTL. Nonetheless, among boys, 25(OH)D < 50 nmol/L was related to an adjusted 0.36 shorter LTL z-score (95% CI: −0.71, −0.01; P = 0.046) compared with 25(OH)D ≥ 75 nmol/L. There was no association among girls. DBP was not significantly related to LTL. Intervention studies are warranted to determine whether increasing vitamin D status enhances telomere length.

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Fig. 1: Leukocyte telomere length (LTL) z-score according to plasma total 25-hydroxy vitamin D [25(OH)D] in Colombian boys (n = 212).

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The dataset analyzed during the current study is available from the corresponding author on reasonable request.


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This work was supported by the ASISA Research Fund at the University of Michigan.

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EV designed the research. MM-P and CM conducted the research and provided critical revisions to the manuscript. RMB performed the statistical analysis. RMB and EV wrote the paper and had primary responsibility for the final content. All authors have read and approved the final version of the manuscript.

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Correspondence to Eduardo Villamor.

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The authors declare no competing interests.

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Bussa, R.M., Mora-Plazas, M., Marín, C. et al. Vitamin D status and leukocyte telomere length in middle childhood. Eur J Clin Nutr (2022).

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