Aims Anaemia is highly prevalent and associated with poor prognosis in patients with chronic heart failure (CHF). Reduced erythroid proliferation capacity of haematopoietic progenitor cells is associated with reduced telomere length, a marker of cellular ageing. We hypothesize that short telomere length contributes to the susceptibility to develop anaemia in patients with CHF.
Methods and results We studied 875 CHF patients, of whom 254 (29%) fulfilled the WHO criteria of anaemia. Telomere length in DNA from peripheral leucocytes was measured with real-time quantitative polymerase chain reaction. Age, gender, and baseline differences adjusted telomere length was correlated with haemoglobin levels (partial r = 0.130; P = 0.011). One standard deviation shorter telomere length was associated with an increased risk of having anaemia [odds ratio (OR), 1.31; 95% confidence interval (CI), 1.12-1.53; P = 0.001]. This observation was not affected by adjustment for potential confounders (OR, 1.38; 95% CI, 1.05-1.81; P = 0.021 after adjustment for age, gender, erythropoietin levels, renal function, left ventricular ejection fraction, age of CHF onset, blood pressure, history of stroke, diabetes, and B-type natriuretic peptide levels).
Conclusion Shorter telomere length increases the odds of having anaemia in CHF patients. This finding supports the hypothesis that cellular ageing in CHF contributes to the susceptibility to develop anaemia.