Telomere length, comorbidity, functional, nutritional and cognitive status as predictors of 5 years post hospital discharge survival in the oldest old.

Author: Zekry D, Krause KH, Irminger-Finger I, Graf CE, Genet C, Vitale AM, Michel JP, Gold G, Herrmann FR.
D. Zekry, Department of Rehabilitation and Geriatrics Geneva University Hospitals, 3, chemin du Pont-Bochet, Thônex, Switzerland. Telephone number: (0114122) 3056355 / Fax number: (0114122) 3056115, E-mail address:
Conference/Journal: J Nutr Health Aging.
Date published: 2012
Other: Volume ID: 16 , Issue ID: 3 , Pages: 225-30 , Word Count: 260

Background: Telomere length has been considered in many cross-sectional studies as a biomarker of aging. However the association between shorter telomeres with lower survival at advanced ages remains a controversial issue. This association could reflect the impact of other health conditions than a direct biological effect. Objective: To test whether leukocyte telomere length is associated with 5-year survival beyond the impact of other risk factors of mortality like comorbidity, functional, nutritional and cognitive status. Design: Prospective study. Setting and participants: A population representative sample of 444 patients (mean age 85 years; 74% female) discharged from the acute geriatric hospital of Geneva University Hospitals (January-December 2004), since then 263 (59.2%) had died (December 2009). Measurements: Telomere length in leukocytes by flow cytometry. Results: In univariate model, telomere length at baseline and cognitive status were not significantly associated with mortality even when adjusting for age (R2=9.5%) and gender (R2=1.9%). The best prognostic predictor was the geriatric index of comorbidity (GIC) (R2=8.8%; HR=3.85) followed by more dependence in instrumental (R2=5.9%; HR=3.85) and based (R2=2.3%; HR=0.84) activities of daily living and lower albumin levels (R2=1.5%; HR=0.97). Obesity (BMI>30: R2=1.6%; HR=0.55) was significantly associated with a two-fold decrease in the risk of mortality compared to BMI between 20-25. When all independent variables were entered in a full multiple Cox regression model (R2=21.4%), the GIC was the strongest risk predictor followed by the nutritional and functional variables. Conclusion: Neither telomeres length nor the presence of dementia are predictors of survival whereas the weight of multiple comorbidity conditions, nutritional and functional impairment are significantly associated with 5-year mortality in the oldest old.
PMID: 22456777