University of Oulu

Pölönen, J., Pinola, P., Ronkainen, J., Blakemore, A. I., Buxton, J. L., Tapanainen, J. S., Franks, S., Piltonen, T. T., Sebert, S., & Morin-Papunen, L. (2022). Polycystic ovary syndrome and leukocyte telomere length: Cross-sectional and longitudinal changes. European Journal of Endocrinology, 187(5), 651–661.

Polycystic ovary syndrome and leukocyte telomere length : cross-sectional and longitudinal changes

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Author: Pölönen, Johanna1; Pinola, Pekka1; Ronkainen, Justiina2;
Organizations: 1Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, University of Oulu and Oulu University Hospital, Medical Research Center, PEDEGO Research Unit, Oulu, Finland
2Center for Life Course Health Research, University of Oulu, Oulu, Finland
3Department of Life Sciences, College of Health, Medicine and Life Sciences, Brunel University London, London, UK
4Department of Metabolism, Digestion and Reproduction, Imperial College London, London, UK
5Department of Biomolecular Sciences, School of Life Sciences, Pharmacy and Chemistry, Kingston University London, London, UK
6Department of Metabolism, Digestion and Reproduction, Institute of Reproductive and Developmental Biology, Imperial College London, London, UK
Format: article
Version: published version
Access: open
Online Access: PDF Full Text (PDF, 1 MB)
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Language: English
Published: Bioscientifica, 2022
Publish Date: 2022-12-20


Objective: Telomeres are DNA–protein complexes that protect chromosome ends from DNA damage and are surrogate biomarkers of cellular aging. Current evidence, almost entirely from cross-sectional observations, supports negative associations between leukocyte telomere length (LTL) and adverse lifestyle factors and cardiometabolic risk factors. Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), the most common gynecological endocrine disorder, is associated with inflammation and oxidative stress, both factors associated with accelerated telomere attrition. We therefore hypothesized that LTL would be shorter and decrease more rapidly in women with PCOS in comparison to a control population.

Design: This is a population-based cohort study comprising women of Northern Finland Birth Cohort 1966, with clinical examinations at ages 31 and 46. The sample included self-reported PCOS (age 31, n = 190; age 46, n = 207) and referent women (age 31, n = 1054; age 46, n = 1324) with data on LTL.

Methods: The association between LTL and PCOS at ages 31 and 46 was analyzed by linear regression models adjusted for BMI, smoking, alcohol consumption and socioeconomic status at the corresponding age.

Results: Women with PCOS had similar mean LTL at ages 31 and 46 (P > 0.4 for both). The mean LTL change between ages 31 and 46 did not differ between groups (P = 0.19). However, we observed a significant LTL attrition between ages 31 and 46 in the reference population (P < 0.001), but not in women with PCOS (P = 0.96).

Conclusions: This finding may suggest a difference in the LTL attrition rate in women with PCOS, an unexpected finding that might affect their risk of age-related disease. Further research is needed to clarify the underlying mechanisms.

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Series: European journal of endocrinology
ISSN: 0804-4643
ISSN-E: 1479-683X
ISSN-L: 0804-4643
Volume: 187
Issue: 5
Pages: 651 - 661
DOI: 10.1530/EJE-22-0462
Type of Publication: A1 Journal article – refereed
Field of Science: 3123 Gynaecology and paediatrics
Funding: The follow up of the NFBC1966 study received financial support from University of Oulu Grant no. 65354, 24000692; Oulu University Hospital Grant no. 2/97, 8/97, 24301140; Ministry of Health and Social Affairs Grant no. 23/251/97, 160/97, 190/97; National Institute for Health and Welfare, Helsinki Grant no. 54121; Regional Institute of Occupational Health, Oulu, Finland Grant no. 50621, 54231; ERDF European Regional Development Fund Grant no. 539/2010 A31592. S S, M R J, A B and J R acknowledge funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement n°633595, DynaHEALTH; S S, M R J, J R received additional support from the following: H2020-733206 LifeCycle, H2020-824989 EUCANCONNECT, H2020-873749 LongITools, and the JPI HDHL, PREcisE project, ZonMw the Netherlands no. P75416. T P acknowledges funding from the Academy of Finland under grant number 315921and 321763.
EU Grant Number: (733206) LIFECYCLE - Early-life stressors and LifeCycle health
(824989) EUCAN-Connect - A federated FAIR platform enabling large-scale analysis of high-value cohort data connecting Europe and Canada in personalized health
(874739) LONGITOOLS - Dynamic longitudinal exposome trajectories in cardiovascular and metabolic non-communicable diseases
(633595) DYNAHEALTH - Understanding the dynamic determinants of glucose homeostasis and social capability to promote Healthy and active aging
Academy of Finland Grant Number: 315921
Detailed Information: 315921 (Academy of Finland Funding decision)
321763 (Academy of Finland Funding decision)
Copyright information: © 2022 The authors. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.