Aim and background Chronic inflammation associates with increased senescence, which is a strong predictor for cardiovascular disease. We hypothesised that inflammation accelerates senescence and thereby enhances the risk of cardiovascular disease in gout.
Methods We assessed replicative senescence by quantifying telomere length (TL) in a discovery cohort of 145 Dutch patients with gout and 273 healthy individuals and validated our results in 474 patients with gout and 293 healthy participants from New Zealand. Subsequently, we investigated the effect of cardiovascular disease on TL of all participants. Also, we measured TL of CD4+ and CD8+ T lymphocytes, B lymphocytes, monocytes, natural killer cells and plasmacytoid dendritic cells. Additionally, we assessed the potential temporal difference in TL and telomerase activity.
Results TL in PBMCs of healthy donors decreased over time, reflecting normal ageing. Patients with gout demonstrated shorter telomeres (p=0.001, R2=0.01873). In fact, the extent of telomere erosion in patients with gout was higher at any age compared with healthy counterparts at any age (p<0.0001, R2=0.02847). Patients with gout with cardiovascular disease had the shortest telomeres and TL was an independent risk factor for cardiovascular disease in patients with gout (p=0.001). TL was inversely associated with the number of gouty flares (p=0.005).
Conclusions Patients with gout have shorter telomeres than healthy participants, reflecting increased cellular senescence. Telomere shortening was associated with the number of flares and with cardiovascular disease in people with gout.
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