Telomere length and Chronic stress

Telomere length and Chronic stress

Telomere length and Chronic stress in internalizing mental disorders among HIV+ children and adolescents in Uganda



Shorter telomere length has been associated with internalizing mental disorders (IMDs). However the nature of this association is yet to be elucidated.



We aimed at determining the longitudinal association between chronic stress and telomere length (TL) over a 12 months’ period.



In 368 children and adolescents with any IMDs and 368 age and sex matched controls, relative TL (RTL) was assessed. Hierarchical cluster analysis was used to generate the different chronic stress classes. Logistic regression analysis was used to model the association between chronic stress and RTL, controlling for age and sex.



We observed a trend towards association between increased chronic stress and longer baseline RTL (p=0.067)

Analyzing both cases and controls, we observed a statistically significant difference between baseline and 12-month RTL (p<0.001). This difference remained significant when cases and controls were individually analyzed (p<0.001 respectively). We found no statistically significant association between chronic stress and the change in RTL after 12 months (p= 0.272).

 At baseline, cases were found to have significantly longer RTL compared to controls (p<0.001). Chronic stress had no mediating role in this association, since the p-value remained the same (p<0.001). Also, the observed difference in RTL between cases of IMDs and controls was not significant at the 12 month follow-up (p=0.117).  


Generally, there is a significant attrition in RTL over a 12 months’ period which is driven by IMDs. Baseline RTL are longer among cases of IMDs than controls. Longitudinal RTL is not associated with IMD.

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