Shorter telomere length in schizophrenia: Evidence from a real-world population and meta-analysis of most recent literature

Patrizia Russo, Giulia Prinzi, Stefania Proietti, Palma Lamonaca, Alessandra Frustaci, Stefania Boccia, Rosarita Amore, Maria Lorenzi, Graziano Onder, Emanuele Marzetti, Vanessa Valdiglesias, Fiorella Guadagni, Maria Giovanna Valente, Gerland Lo Cascio, Sara Fraietta, Giuseppe Ducci, Stefano Bonassi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Schizophrenia is a severe, chronic mental disorder. Schizophrenia is visualized as an accelerated cellular aging syndrome characterized by early onset of cardiovascular disease causing premature mortality. In human aging involves alterations in telomere length (TL). To investigate the presence of TL shortening in schizophrenia and psychiatric syndromes associated, this condition was studied in leukocytes (LTL) of a sample of patients suffering from schizophrenia and other psychotic disorders, and compared with a group of non-psychiatric controls. We explored the relationship between LTL and age, gender, and smoking habit with the aim to control whether these potential confounding factors may influence the rate of telomeres shortening. We also performed a new comprehensive meta-analysis including studies on LTL in schizophrenia patients compared to healthy subjects published in the last two years and the results of the present study. Our results suggest that a diagnosis of schizophrenia, more than gender, age, cigarette smoking or alcohol drinking, is the most important condition responsible of the LTL shortening. A strong LTL shortening was observed in patients affected by schizophrenia, Schizoaffective disorder, and Psychosis not otherwise specified when they were younger than 50 years, while in the group of older subjects no major differences were observed. Additional evidence supporting the causal link of schizophrenia with accelerated telomeres shortening came from the analysis of the updated meta-analysis. The availability of a personalized profile of mechanistic pathways, risk factors, and clinical features may pose the basis for a rehabilitative treatment addressing individual needs of the psychiatric patients.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)37-45
Number of pages9
JournalSchizophrenia Research
Publication statusPublished - Dec 1 2018


  • Age
  • Cardiovascular comorbidity
  • Gender
  • Rehabilitation
  • Schizophrenia
  • Smoking
  • Telomere length

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Biological Psychiatry


Dive into the research topics of 'Shorter telomere length in schizophrenia: Evidence from a real-world population and meta-analysis of most recent literature'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this