Exploring the Relationship Between Klotho and Telomere Biology in High-Stress Caregivers


“As expected, mothers caring for a child with ASD reported significantly higher perceived stress [...] than mothers caring for a neurotypical child...”

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BUFFALO, NY- August 17, 2023 – A new research paper was published by Aging (listed by MEDLINE/PubMed as "Aging (Albany NY)" and "Aging-US" by Web of Science) in Volume 15, Issue 15, entitled, “Associations between klotho and telomere biology in high stress caregivers.”

Aging biomarkers may be related to each other through direct co-regulation and/or through being regulated by common processes associated with chronological aging or stress. Klotho is an aging regulator that acts as a circulating hormone with critical involvement in regulating insulin signaling, phosphate homeostasis, oxidative stress, and age-related inflammatory functioning. 

In this new study, researchers Ryan L. Brown, Elissa E. Epel, Jue Lin, Dena B. Dubal, and Aric A. Prather from the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, University of California, San Francisco, Department of Biochemistry and Biophysics, University of California, San Francisco, and the Department of Neurology and Weill Institute of Neurosciences, University of California, San Francisco discuss the association between klotho levels and telomere length of specific sorted immune cells among a healthy sample of mothers caregiving for a child with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) or a child without ASD - covarying age and body mass index - in order to understand if high stress associated with caregiving for a child with an ASD may be involved in any association between these aging biomarkers. 

“Here we examine the relationship between two important biomarkers of aging, klotho and telomere length, in a healthy sample stratified into groups based on a combination of (a) stressor exposure and (b) level of perceived stress (i.e., high-stress mothers of children with ASD compared to low-stress mothers of neurotypical children).” 

In 178 caregiving women, the researchers found that klotho levels were positively associated with telomere length in PBMCs (an effect driven by CD4+ and CD8+CD28− T cells) among high-stress mothers of children with an ASD, but not among low-stress mothers of neurotypical children. There were no significant associations between klotho and telomerase activity in either group, across cell types assessed here.

“Our results suggest that klotho levels and telomere length may be associated through a coordinated downregulation of longevity factors occurring under higher stress caregiving conditions.” 

Read the full study: DOI: https://doi.org/10.18632/aging.204961

Corresponding author: Ryan L. Brown - ryan.brown@ucsf.edu

Video short: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y0P4vsf1IIk

Keywords: aging, aging biology, stress, klotho, telomeres, telomerase

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About Aging-US:

Launched in 2009, Aging (Aging-US) publishes papers of general interest and biological significance in all fields of aging research and age-related diseases, including cancer—and now, with a special focus on COVID-19 vulnerability as an age-dependent syndrome. Topics in Aging go beyond traditional gerontology, including, but not limited to, cellular and molecular biology, human age-related diseases, pathology in model organisms, signal transduction pathways (e.g., p53, sirtuins, and PI-3K/AKT/mTOR, among others), and approaches to modulating these signaling pathways.

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