Is Telomere Length a Good Proxy for Biological Age?

First, it’s not clear that there’s anything we can do if we know the length of our telomeres. As my Hopkins colleagues Mary Armanios explained, “Within the normal telomere length range, it is not possible to determine a person’s exact biologic age, nor is it a good marker of a person’s ‘youthfulness.’”

The other problem is that it’s not clear that we can take any action to make our telomeres longer, or even to prevent them from getting shorter. But there are a couple of things you can try:

Exercise regularly. There is some evidence that regular exercise is correlated with longer telomeres. A study in 2017concluded that “adults who participate in high levels of physical activity tend to have longer telomeres, accounting for years of reduced cellular aging compared to their more sedentary counterparts.”

Avoid stress. Another study in 2016 found that stress tended to make telomeres shorter.

Even if both of those studies are wrong about telomeres, the general advice to exercise and avoid stress is good for all sorts of reasons, so I’m happy to endorse these recommendations.

In addition, there are companies (like this one) that claim you can take supplements that will maintain telomere length, but I couldn’t find any solid evidence to back up those claims. So no, you can’t take a supplement or a pill that will restore your telomeres to the lengths they had when you were a baby.

Finally, there is some promising early research that uses mRNA technology–the same technology used to develop the new COVID vaccines–to deliver enzymes that rapidly increase telomere length in human cells. A huge caveat is that this only works in cells growing in a laboratory culture, and no one knows if it’s possible to do this in a living human. But it isn’t a crazy idea, so I’ll keep an eye on this research.



As you can see, telomeres decline from about 10,000 letters (bases) at birth to about 5,000 in 80-year-olds, but many people have telomeres that are thousands of bases shorter or longer than the average.

When its telomeres get too short, a cell will die. So the reasoning goes, if we can keep our telomeres nice and long, we’ll live longer! It might seem simple, but it’s not.

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Minicircle may offer TERT therapy, now I want to try it…

Telomerase is not the most important thing (% of short telomeres is - inappropriate chromosomal fusion happens once they are short enough) but it seems like it has some causal relevance.

Telomerase itself (TERT, TERC, and accessory proteins in the holoenzyme complex) is not an oncogene. It’s necessary for any cell to proliferate forever, but gain of function does not cause cancer. Loss of TERT function actually increases genomic instability because short telomeres cause end-to-end chromosome fusions which accelerates the pace of mutation."


That seems crazy at your age… whats your rationale? You already have an extremely young biological age, and a pretty low chronological age - so it doesn’t seem to make sense to me(from a risk/reward standpoint).

Follistatin might make more sense…

Full Paper (open access):

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Does telomerase therapy only hit 1 percent of cells and does it make these cells dominate subsequent cell divisions long term? Which can introduce stochastic luck/unluck

Alzheimer’s risk despite this

I think the position is that TL is significant but a weak biomarker. If you take cells out of a body they stop replicating when they run out of telomeres. That, however, is not what goes wrong. What goes wrong is that the cells stop functioning they don’t stop dividing necessarily.

More on Telomeres:


Very interesting paper, thank you.
Could Acarbose increase telomere length in the gut microbiome? I would not be surprised if it does.
Any papers on that? I could not find any.

No studies so far. This paper speculates about the telomere lengthening capabilities of acarbose and there is an interesting idea:

Acarbose has been widely regarded as increasing the abundance of SCFAs, especially acetic and butyric acids. Using yeast as a model organism, Romano et al. found that acetic acid had the capability of extending the length of telomeres [69].

There is a more hedonistic way of getting more acetate into the system. Best combined with Pantethine, however.

The pathway for acetate to extend telomeres passes through the enzyme ACSS2 which increases the level of Acetyl-CoA which results in greater acetylation and hence has longer telomeres. However, there is an interesting self-inhibition in ACSS2 which prevents this from being a complete solution.

Pantethine is a non rate limited version of B5 which accelerates the conversion of Acetaldehyde into acetate.

To get the acetaldehyde you start with ethanol. Hic!

In the end, however, telomere length is clearly dependent to some extent on the energy level of the cells as measured by Acetyl-CoA levels.

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If I get this correctly, you are suggesting to take B5 Pantethine pills with some alchohol?
Sounds good to me! :beers:

That’s what I am doing at the moment. I would suggest also taking some DHM at the same time.

a) It is not a complete solution
b) There are negative side effects (reduced by Pantethine and DHM)
c) There are positive side effects.

An additional point

There are people who like to drink vinegar. I am not sure about that although I eat some for taste reasons (normally Balsemic). Acetate is clearly good news, but having the protons floating around as H+ is not so good. This has the potential to drive the deacetylation of the histone.

Hence I like to start with ethanol rather than acetic acid. It is still a bit acidic, but I tend to be quite alkaline anyway.

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