Reduced Telomere Shortening in Lifelong Trained Male Football Players Compared to Age-Matched Inactive Controls

TitelReduced Telomere Shortening in Lifelong Trained Male Football Players Compared to Age-Matched Inactive Controls
MedientypJournal Article
Year of Publication2020
AutorenHagman M, Werner C, Kamp K, Fristrup B, Hornstrup T, Meyer T, Böhm M, Laufs U, Krustrup P
JournalProg Cardiovasc Dis

Aims: Current evidence points to cellular anti-ageing effects of regular endurance training which may differ from other sport modalities. Effects of football training on markers of cell senescence have not been tested.

Methods: One hundred and forty healthy, non-smoking men participated in the study, including young elite football players aged 18-30 years (YF, n = 35, 21.6 ± 0.5 yrs), elderly football players aged 65-80 years (EF, n = 35, 71.9 ± 0.5 yrs), untrained young controls (YC, n = 35, 24.3 ± 0.6 yrs) and elderly controls (EC, n = 35, 70.1 ± 0.7 yrs). Besides body composition (DXA scan), resting heart rate (RHR), blood pressure (BP) and selected fasting blood variables, mononuclear cells (MNC) were isolated. MNC telomere length was determined by flow-fluorescence in-situ hybridization (FISH) and polymerase chain reaction (PCR). Telomerase activity was quantified using telomerase repeat amplification protocol (TRAP) assay. mRNA expression of anti- and pro-senescent factors was measured with real-time PCR.

Results: EF showed 2.5% higher (p = 0.047) granulocyte telomere length and 1.3% higher (p = 0.009) lymphocyte telomere length compared to EC. EF had 37% lower (p = 0.025) mRNA expression of the pro-senescent factor p16 compared to EC. No significant between-group differences (p > 0.050) were observed in telomerase activity or anti-senescent factors (TRF2, Ku70 and POT1a) for EF vs EC. YF had higher telomerase activity (4.2-fold, p = 0.001), telomere repeat binding factor (TRF) 2 mRNA expression (3.2-fold, p = 0.003), Ku70 mRNA expression (2.3-fold, p < 0.001) and POT1a mRNA expression (2.2-fold, p = 0.002) compared to YC, but there was no significant between-group difference in telomere length.

Conclusion: This study is the first cross-sectional, controlled trial showing effects of lifelong football participation on telomere shortening and senescence markers in circulating cells, suggesting that football induces cellular anti-senescence mechanisms implying positive long-term cardiovascular health effects.

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