Telomere Length in Spondyloarthritis and Rheumatoid Arthritis

By Patrick Daly - Last Updated: April 11, 2023

Telomere length shortening plays a role in the deterioration and death of various immune cells, leading to immune destabilization and ageing. Researchers, led by Donglei Wei, investigated if leukocyte telomere length (LTL) had a causal relationship with rheumatoid arthritis or ankylosing spondylitis (AS).

Based on their Mendelian randomization (MR) study, the authors suggested longer LTL may be associated with increased risk of developing AS, and may play a role in spondyloarthritis progression. The study did not find evidence of a similar relationship between LTL and rheumatoid arthritis in analyses. The data were presented in Frontiers in Immunology.

Telomere Length Linked to Spondyloarthritis

The analysis encompassed 472174 LTL records from the UK Biobank genome-wide association study database, as well as 229640 patients with AS and 212472 with RA from the FinnGen database. Researchers used MR-Egger, inverse variance weighting, and weighted median methods to evaluate the causal effects of LTL on RA and AS.

During forward MR analysis, investigators stated their inverse variance-weighted (IVW) and weighted median results suggested that longer LTL could be associated with increased risk of developing AS (IVW odds ratio, 1.55; 95% CI, 1.14-2.11; P=.006).

In addition, MR-Egger regression models indicated there was no pleiotropy between the instrumental variables assessed (Egger intercept=0.008; P=.294), the leave-one-out method determined that each single nucleotide polymorphism of AS persisted for each outcome. The reverse MR analysis did not identify any significant causal effects.

“In conclusion,” the authors ended, “the present study found that longer LTL may be associated with an increased risk of AS… In the future, further studies are worthwhile to explore the correlation between LTL and AS in the pathogenesis and treatment strategies of AS.”

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