Race,ethnicity, psychosocial factors, and telomere length in a multicenter setting

Shannon M. Lynch, Mary Peek, Nandita Mitra, Krithika Ravichandran, Charles Branas, Elaine Spangler, Wenting Zhou, Electra D. Paskett, Sarah Gehlert, Cecilia Degraffinreid, Timothy R. Rebbeck, Harold Riethman

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28 Scopus citations


Background Leukocyte telomere length(LTL) has been associated with age, self-reported race/ethnicity, gender, education, and psychosocial factors, including perceived stress, and depression. However, inconsistencies in associations of LTL with disease and other phenotypes exist across studies. Population characteristics, including race/ethnicity, laboratory methods, and statistical approaches in LTL have not been comprehensively studied and could explain inconsistent LTL associations. Methods LTL was measured using Southern Blot in 1510 participants from a multi-ethnic, multi-center study combining data from 3 centers with different population characteristics and laboratory processing methods. Main associations between LTL and psychosocial factors and LTL and race/ethnicity were evaluated and then compared across generalized estimating equations(GEE) and linear regression models. Statistical models were adjusted for factors typically associated with LTL(age, gender, cancer status) and also accounted for factors related to center differences, including laboratory methods(i.e., DNA extraction). Associations between LTL and psychosocial factors were also evaluated within race/ethnicity subgroups (Non-hispanic Whites, African Americans, and Hispanics). Results Beyond adjustment for age, gender, and cancer status, additional adjustments for DNA extraction and clustering by center were needed given their effects on LTL measurements. In adjusted GEE models, longer LTL was associated with African American race (Beta(β) (standard error(SE)) = 0.09(0.04), p-value = 0.04) and Hispanic ethnicity (β(SE) = 0.06 (0.01), p-value = 0.02) compared to Non-Hispanic Whites. Longer LTL was also associated with less than a high school education compared to having greater than a high school education (β(SE) = 0.06(0.02), p-value = 0.04). LTL was inversely related to perceived stress (β(SE) = -0.02(0.003), p

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere0146723
JournalPLoS One
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 11 2016


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Medicine(all)

Cite this

Lynch, S. M., Peek, M., Mitra, N., Ravichandran, K., Branas, C., Spangler, E., Zhou, W., Paskett, E. D., Gehlert, S., Degraffinreid, C., Rebbeck, T. R., & Riethman, H. (2016). Race,ethnicity, psychosocial factors, and telomere length in a multicenter setting. PLoS One, 11(1), [e0146723]. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0146723