US News: Genetic Sign of Aging Linked to Risk of Fatal COVID
A new study from the Health Institute Carlos III in Madrid, Spain has linked shorter telomere length to higher COVID-19 mortality, particularly in older women. Telomeres are the end tips of a chromosome and they are made of repetitive sequences of non-coding DNA that protect the chromosome from damage. Telomeres also shorten with age as cells divide and die. 600 adults hospitalized with COVID-19 from March 2020 to September 2020 had their telomere lengths measured from blood samples taken 20 days after testing positive or hospitalization. 533 of the patients survived with an average age of 67 and the 75 who died had an average age of 78. In all cases, shorter telomeres were strongly correlated with a higher COVID-19 mortality risk at 30 and 90 days after leaving the hospital. Women 65 and older with longer telomeres had an 80% lower risk of dying from COVID-19. This study was purely observational and did not aim to prove a causal relationship between shorter telomeres and death from COVID-19. The full article can be read here on US News. For more on COVID-19 click here.