Article

Hostility and Cellular Aging in Men from the Whitehall II Cohort

Department of Epidemiology and Public Health, University College London, United Kingdom.
Biological psychiatry (Impact Factor: 9.47). 10/2011; 71(9):767-73. DOI: 10.1016/j.biopsych.2011.08.020
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Hostility is associated with a significantly increased risk of age-related disease and mortality, yet the pathophysiological mechanisms involved remain unclear. Here we investigated the hypothesis that hostility might impact health by promoting cellular aging.
We tested the relationship between cynical hostility and two known markers of cellular aging, leukocyte telomere length (TL) and leukocyte telomerase activity (TA), in 434 men and women from the Whitehall II cohort.
High-hostile men had significantly shorter leukocyte TL than their low-hostile counterparts. They also had elevated leukocyte TA, with a significantly increased likelihood of having both short TL and high TA, compared with low-hostile individuals.
Because telomerase is known to counteract telomere shortening by synthesizing telomeric DNA repeats, particularly in the context of shortened telomeres, heightened TA might represent a compensatory response in high-hostile individuals. The relationship between hostility and disease is stronger in men than in women, and men generally have a shorter life expectancy than women. Our findings suggest that telomere attrition might represent a novel mechanism mediating the detrimental effects of hostility on men's health.

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    • "It has been reported that telomere length is influenced by a wide range of factors such as age, gender, race, smoking, physical activity, socioeconomic status, obesity, multivitamin intake, alcohol consumption, and hormone replacement therapy [2], although findings are inconsistent [9]. In relation to psychological factors, shorter leukocyte telomere length is associated with current life stress [10] and personality traits such as pessimism [11] and hostility [12]. Recent studies have focused on the association between telomere length and early-life environment, and these studies have suggested that adverse experiences such as physical abuse and long institutionalization accelerate telomere length shortening [8,13,14], with inconsistent findings [15,16]. "
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    • "This is the first prospective study demonstrating a significant relationship between a personality trait and telomere attrition. All other studies to date have been cross-sectional, and thus have not provided insight into the sequence of events (Damjanovic et al. 2007; Brydon et al. 2011 "
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    • "There is significant work demonstrating the links between psychological traits such as optimism/pessimism (Brummett et al., 2006; Giltay et al., 2004; Maruta et al., 2002; Scheier and Carver, 1987), hostility (Smith et al., 2004; Tindle et al., 2009), and mastery (Mausbach et al., 2007; Pudrovska et al., 2005) with physical health outcomes, including telomere length (Brydon et al., 2011; Epel et al., 2006; O'Donovan et al., 2009). One important candidate pathway linking psychological traits to health outcomes is emotion regulation (John and Gross, 2007). "
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