Telomere length and accelerated biological aging in the China suboptimal health cohort: A case-control study

Author Identifier

Wei Wang Orcid: https://orcid.org/0000-0002-1430-1360

Document Type

Journal Article


Mary Ann Liebert Inc.


School of Medical and Health Sciences




National Health and Medical Research Council

Grant Number

NHMRC Number : 1112767


Alzain, M. A., Asweto, C. O., Zhang, J., Fang, H., Zhao, Z., Guo, X., ... & Wang, W. (2017). Telomere Length and Accelerated Biological Aging in the China Suboptimal Health Cohort: A Case–Control Study. OMICS: A Journal of Integrative Biology, 21(6), 333-339. Available here


Suboptimal health status (SHS) has been linked to cardiovascular risk factors, psychosocial stress, and unhealthy lifestyle. These factors also contribute to the shortening of telomere length (TL). A case–control study was conducted to examine the association between subjective health measures of SHS from the behavior perspective and also objective measures of TL at molecular level. SHS (cases = 294) was matched by age, sex, and body mass index with ideal health (controls = 294) using a propensity score matching method. Suboptimal health status questionnaire-25 (SHSQ-25) was used in the community-based health survey. A quantitative polymerase chain reaction was used to measure relative telomere length (RTL). Shorter RTL was found among the SHS group compared to the ideal health group (p < 0.05). SHS was almost four times likely to be in the first quartile (odds ratio [OR] = 3.81; 95% confidence interval [CI] 2.21–6.56), almost thrice in second quartile (OR = 2.84; 95% CI 1.65–4.90), and almost twice likely to be in the third quartile (OR = 1.71; 95% CI 1.00–2.94) compared to the fourth quartile (the longest) of RTL after adjusting for socioeconomic, dietary intake, anthropometric, blood pressure, and biochemistry variables (p < 0.05). Notably, SHS score was negatively correlated with RTL (r = −0.218, p  < 0.05). Our study confirms an association between SHS and short RTL. Combination of subjective (SHS) and objective (RTL) measures is a novel tool for health aging investigation. Therefore, SHSQ-25 could be used as a screening tool for measuring biological aging in low-income countries at community level where the expensive technique for RTL measurement is not applicable.



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