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Telomere length and bipolar disorder

Powell, T., Dima, D., Frangou, S. & Breen, G. (2018). Telomere length and bipolar disorder. Neuropsychopharmacology, 43, pp. 445-453. doi: 10.1038/npp.2017.125


Variation in telomere length is heritable and is currently considered a promising biomarker of susceptibility for neuropsychiatric disorders, particularly because of its association with memory function and hippocampal morphology. Here, we investigate telomere length in connection to familial risk and disease expression in bipolar disorder (BD). We used quantitative polymerase chain reactions and a telomere-sequence to single-copy-gene-sequence ratio method to determine telomere length in genomic DNA extracted from buccal smears from 63 patients with BD, 74 first-degree relatives (49 relatives had no lifetime psychopathology and 25 had a non-BD mood disorder) and 80 unrelated healthy individuals. Participants also underwent magnetic resonance imaging to determine hippocampal volumes and cognitive assessment to evaluate episodic memory using the verbal paired associates test. Telomere length was shorter in psychiatrically-well relatives (p=0.007) compared to unrelated healthy participants. Telomere length was also shorter in relatives (regardless of psychiatric status; p<0.01) and patients with BD not on lithium (p=0.02) compared to lithium-treated patients with BD. In the entire sample, telomere length was positively associated with left and right hippocampal volume and with delayed recall. This study provides evidence that shortened telomere length is associated with familial risk for BD. Lithium may have neuroprotective properties that require further investigation using prospective designs.

Publication Type: Article
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
R Medicine > RC Internal medicine > RC0321 Neuroscience. Biological psychiatry. Neuropsychiatry
Departments: School of Health & Psychological Sciences > Psychology
Text - Published Version
Available under License Creative Commons: Attribution International Public License 4.0.

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