New Study Reveals Association Between Dementia Risk and the Size of White Blood Cell Telomeres

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Shorter Telomeres Linked to Increased Risk of Dementia

Shorter Telomeres on White Blood Cell Chromosomes Associated with Increased Risk of Dementia

Association between dementia risk, size of white blood cell telomeres: Study(Shutterstock)


Shorter telomeres on the ends of white blood cell chromosomes were discovered to be associated with an increased risk of dementia. The findings were published in the journal General Psychiatry online.

Link with Brain Health

According to the researchers, shorter telomeres are associated with reduced total and white matter, which aids in information processing and may be a predictor of future brain health.

About Telomeres

A telomere, which looks like a shoelace cap, is intended to keep chromosomes from fraying or unraveling during replication.

Study Methodology

The researchers evaluated potential correlations between leukocyte telomere length and dementia risk, including Alzheimer’s disease and vascular dementia, as well as total and regional brain volumes, using data from the UK Biobank.


  • Leukocyte telomere length was determined by analyzing blood samples collected at the time of enrollment for 439,961 participants ranging in age from 37 to 73.
  • A substantial link between leukocyte telomere length and the risk of dementia was found.
  • Those with the shortest leukocyte telomeres were 14% more likely to be diagnosed with dementia and 28% more likely to be diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease.
  • The risk of vascular dementia also increased by 18%.
  • Brain scans showed a linear relationship between shorter leukocyte telomeres and decreased overall brain volume, white matter, and specific brain regions.

Limitations and Conclusion

This observational study cannot determine the cause, and the researchers noted several limitations. However, the findings suggest that leukocyte telomere length can serve as an aging biomarker associated with the risk of dementia and highlight its potential as a biomarker for brain health.

This story has been published from a wire agency feed without modifications to the text. Only the headline has been changed.

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