Telomere/telomerase system impairment in circulating angiogenic cells of geriatric patients with heart failure

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Background: The functional characteristics of circulating angiogenic cells (CACs) are impaired in congestive heart failure (CHF) patients, suggesting that CAC dysfunction could contribute to CHF pathogenesis. However, the underlying mechanisms are only partly unraveled. No data are currently available regarding telomere/telomerase system in CACs of CHF patients. Methods: CACs were obtained from 80 subjects: 40 healthy control subjects (CTR) [median age (IQR), 80 (76-85 yrs)] and 40 patients affected by post-ischemic cardiomyopathy CHF [median age (IQR), 82 (77-89)]. CAC and leukocyte telomere length, assessed as T/S ratio, and telomerase (TERT) activity were determined in all the enrolled subjects. Specificity and sensitivity of CAC and leukocyte T/S in discriminating between CHF and CTR were evaluated using Receiver Operator Characteristic (ROC) curve analysis and reported as AUC values. CD34+/VEGFR2+ number and pro-inflammatory cytokines plasma levels, such as IL-6 and TNF-α, were also measured. Results: CAC T/S and TERT activity were significantly reduced in CHF patients compared to CTR subjects. In leukocytes, only a significant T/S reduction was observed. AUC values were higher for CAC T/S with respect to leukocyte T/S (AUC = 0.89, and AUC = 0.73, P <0.01, respectively). In multivariate analysis, leukocyte T/S, CAC T/S, CAC TERT activity and NT-proBNP levels were confirmed as parameters significantly associated with CHF. CD34+/VEGFR2+ number, IL-6 and TNF-α plasma levels were significantly increased in CHF patients. Conclusions: CACs from CHF patients are characterized by telomere/telomerase system impairment, providing new insight into the clinical relevance of CACs in CHF pathogenesis.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)99-105
Number of pages7
JournalInternational Journal of Cardiology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Mar 20 2013


  • Circulating angiogenic cells
  • Congestive heart failure
  • Telomerase activity
  • Telomere length

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine


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