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Anxiety disorders and accelerated cellular ageing

  • Josine E. Verhoeven (a1), Dóra Révész (a1), Patricia van Oppen (a1), Elissa S. Epel (a2), Owen M. Wolkowitz (a2) and Brenda W. J. H. Penninx (a1)...
Abstract
Background

Anxiety disorders increase the risk of onset of several ageing-related somatic conditions, which might be the consequence of accelerated cellular ageing.

Aims

To examine the association between anxiety status and leukocyte telomere length (LTL) as an indicator of cellular ageing.

Method

Data are from individuals with current (n = 1283) and remitted (n = 459) anxiety disorder, and controls (n = 582) with no psychiatric disorder from the Netherlands Study of Depression and Anxiety. We determined DSM-IV anxiety diagnoses and clinical characteristics by structured psychiatric interviews and self-report questionnaires; LTL was assessed using quantitative polymerase chain reaction and converted into base pairs (bp).

Results

Patients in the current anxiety group (bp = 5431) had significantly shorter LTL compared with the control group (bp = 5506, P = 0.01) and the remitted anxiety group (bp = 5499, P = 0.03) in analyses adjusted for sociodemographics, health and lifestyle. The remitted anxiety group did not differ from the control group (P = 0.84), however, time since remission was positively related with LTL. Furthermore, anxiety severity scores were associated with LTL in the whole sample, in line with a dose–response association.

Conclusions

Patients with current – but not remitted – anxiety disorder had shorter telomere length, suggesting a process of accelerated cellular ageing, which in part may be reversible after remission.

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Copyright
Corresponding author
Josine E. Verhoeven, PO Box 74077, 1070 BB Amsterdam, The Netherlands. Email: J.Verhoeven@ggzingeest.nl
Footnotes
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Declaration of interest

E.E. is a cofounder of Telomere Diagnostics, Inc., a telomere measurement company.

Footnotes
References
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Anxiety disorders and accelerated cellular ageing

  • Josine E. Verhoeven (a1), Dóra Révész (a1), Patricia van Oppen (a1), Elissa S. Epel (a2), Owen M. Wolkowitz (a2) and Brenda W. J. H. Penninx (a1)...
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