Cross-sectional associations of sex hormones with leucocyte telomere length, a marker of biological age, in a community-based cohort of older men

Yeap, Bu B., Hui, Jennie, Knuiman, Matthew W., Handelsman, David J., Flicker, Leon, Divitini, Mark L., Arscott, Gillian M., McLennan, Susan V., Twigg, Stephen M., Almeida, Osvaldo P., Hankey, Graeme J., Golledge, Jonathan, Norman, Paul E., and Beilby, John P. (2019) Cross-sectional associations of sex hormones with leucocyte telomere length, a marker of biological age, in a community-based cohort of older men. Clinical Endocrinology, 90 (4). pp. 562-569.

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Telomeres protect chromosomes from damage, and shorter leucocyte telomere length (LTL) is a marker of advancing biological age. The association between testosterone (T) and its bioactive metabolites, dihydrotestosterone (DHT) and oestradiol (E2) with telomere length, particularly in older men, is uncertain. The study aimed to clarify associations of sex hormones with LTL in older men.

Participants and methods:

We used cross‐sectional data from 2913 men aged 76.7 ± 3.2 years with morning blood samples assayed for T, DHT, E2 (mass spectrometry), and sex hormone‐binding globulin (SHBG, immunoassay), to correlate sex hormones with LTL measured using PCR and expressed as T/S ratio in multivariable linear regression models adjusted for age, cardiometabolic risk factors and cardiovascular disease history.


Average difference per decade of age was T −0.46 nmol/L, DHT −0.11 nmol/L, E2 −7.5 pmol/L, SHBG +10.2 nmol/L and LTL (T/S ratio) −0.065. E2 correlated with T/S ratio (r = 0.038, P = 0.039) and SHBG was inversely correlated (r = −0.053, P = 0.004). After multivariable adjustment, E2 was associated with T/S ratio (per 1 SD increase E2: coefficient 0.011, P = 0.043), T and DHT were not associated. When E2 and SHBG were simultaneously included, E2 remained positively (coefficient 0.014, P = 0.014) and SHBG inversely (coefficient −0.013, P = 0.037) associated with T/S ratio.


In older men, neither T nor DHT is associated with LTL while E2 is independently associated with LTL and SHBG is inversely associated, thus relating sex hormone exposure to lower biological age. Further research is needed to determine causality and clarify the role of sex hormones in male ageing.

Item ID: 57810
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1365-2265
Keywords: ageing male, androgen, biological age, leucocyte telomere length, oestrogen, sex hormone-binding globulin
Copyright Information: Copyright © 2018 John Wiley & Sons Ltd
Funders: National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC)
Projects and Grants: NHMRC 1060557, NHMRC 1121548, NHMRC 1128083
Date Deposited: 03 Apr 2019 07:31
FoR Codes: 32 BIOMEDICAL AND CLINICAL SCIENCES > 3201 Cardiovascular medicine and haematology > 320199 Cardiovascular medicine and haematology not elsewhere classified @ 100%
SEO Codes: 92 HEALTH > 9201 Clinical Health (Organs, Diseases and Abnormal Conditions) > 920199 Clinical Health (Organs, Diseases and Abnormal Conditions) not elsewhere classified @ 100%
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