44 The importance of accelerated telomere shortening for understanding comorbid medical illnesses and premature mortality in depressed individuals is highlighted by multiple studies in nondepressed populations showing significantly increased medical morbidity and earlier mortality in those with shortened telomeres.7,136 For example, shortened leukocyte telomeres are Inhibitors,research,lifescience,medical associated with a greater than 3-fold increase in the risk of myocardial infarction and stroke and with a greater than 8-fold increase in the risk of death from infectious disease.137 Thus, cell aging (as manifest by shortened telomeres), may provide a conceptual link between depression and its associated medical comorbidities and shortened
life span.7,104,132 The causes of accelerated telomere loss in MDD are not known, but they may include PP2 cost chronic exposure to inflammation and oxidation, both of which are commonly Inhibitors,research,lifescience,medical seen in
MDD and both of which are associated with telomere shortening. In our own studies, telomere length in MDD was inversely correlated with inflammation (IL-6 concentrations) and oxidative stress (the Inhibitors,research,lifescience,medical F2-isoprostane/ Vitamin C ratio).117 Telomere length is determined by the balance between telomere shortening stimuli (eg, mitotic divisions and exposure to inflammation and oxidation) and telomere lengthening or reparative stimuli. A major enzyme responsible for protecting, repairing, and lengthening telomeres is telomerase, a ribonucleoproptein enzyme that elongates telomeres, thereby Inhibitors,research,lifescience,medical counteracting telomere shortening and maintaining cellular viability.131 Telomerase may also have antiaging or cell survival-promoting effects independent of its effects
on telomere length by regulating transcription of growth factors, synergizing with the neurotrophic effects of BDNF, having antioxidant effects and intrinsic antiapoptotic effects, protecting cells from necrosis, and stimulating cell growth in adverse conditions (eg, ref 128). In one study in which telomere shortening was observed, telomerase activity was significantly diminished in stressed (generally nondepressed) Inhibitors,research,lifescience,medical caregivers8 but, in another caregiver study (in which caregivers were more depressed than controls), telomerase activity was significantly increased.138 We recently found that telomerase activity was significantly increased in unmedicated depressed individuals.139 Tryptophan synthase It is possible that increased telomerase activity, in the face of shortened telomeres, is an attempted compensatory response to telomere shortening.138,139 Pointing to the inter-relatedness of several of the mediators considered in this review, telomerase activity can be down-regulated by cortisol,140 tumor necrosis factor (TNF)-a and certain growth factors, and upregulated by IL-6 and certain other inflammatory cytokines, insulinlike growth factor-1, fibroblast growth factor-2, vascular endothelial growth factor, estrogen, and others.