Telomeres and the natural lifespan limit in humans.
An ongoing debate in demography has focused on whether the human lifespan has a maximal natural limit. Taking a mechanistic perspective, and knowing that short telomeres are associated with diminished longevity, we examined whether telomere length dynamics during adult life could set a maximal natural lifespan limit. We define leukocyte telomere length of 5 kb as the 'telomeric brink', which denotes a high risk of imminent death. We show that a subset of adults may reach the telomeric brink within the current life expectancy and more so for a 100-year life expectancy. Thus, secular trends in life expectancy should confront a biological limit due to crossing the telomeric brink.
Steenstrup, T; Kark, JD; Verhulst, S; Thinggaard, M; Hjelmborg, JVB; Dalgård, C; Kyvik, KO; Christiansen, L; Mangino, M; Spector, TD; Petersen, I; Kimura, M; Benetos, A; Labat, C; Sinnreich, R; Hwang, S-J; Levy, D; Hunt, SC; Fitzpatrick, AL; Chen, W; Berenson, GS; Barbieri, M; Paolisso, G; Gadalla, SM; Savage, SA; Christensen, K; Yashin, AI; Arbeev, KG; Aviv, A
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