Renal dysfunction is a frequent comorbidity associated with high mortality in patients with chronic heart failure (CHF). The intrinsic biological age might affect the ability of the kidney to cope with the challenging environment caused by CHF. We explored the association between leukocyte telomere length, a marker for biological age, and renal function in patients with CHF.
Telomere length was determined by a real-time quantitative polymerase chain reaction in 866 CHF patients. Renal function was estimated with the simplified Modification of Diet in Renal Disease equation. The median age was 74 (interquartile range 64-79) years, 61% male, left ventricular ejection fraction of 30 (23-44)%, and the estimated glomerular filtration rate was 53 (40-68) ml/min/1.73 m(2). Telomere length was associated with renal function (correlation coefficient 0.123, P <0.001). This relationship remained significant after adjustment for age, gender, age of CHF onset (standardized-beta 0.091, P = 0.007). Also additionally adjusting for the severity of CHF and baseline differences did not change our findings.
The association between shorter leukocyte telomere length and reduced renal function in heart failure suggests that intrinsic biological aging affects the ability of the kidney to cope with the systemic changes evoked by heart failure.