Department of Endocrinology, Key Laboratory of Endocrinology, Ministry of Health, Peking Union Medical College Hospital, Peking Union Medical College, Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences, Beijing 100730, China.
# These authors contributed equally to this work and share first authorship.
Aim/hypothesis: The relationship between peripheral blood leukocyte telomere length (LTL) and kidney dysfunction, especially in people with hypertension, remains unclear. No clinical study has explored the role of inflammation and oxidative stress in the relationship between LTL and kidney dysfunction. Therefore, we examined the relationship between baseline LTL and albuminuria progression and/or rapid renal function decline in Chinese patients with or without hypertension and investigated whether inflammation and oxidative stress played a mediating role in this relationship.
Methods: We conducted a prospective study including 262 patients in a 7-year follow-up period from 2014 to 2021. Data on LTL, inflammation, oxidative markers, renal function, and urine protein levels were assessed. Kidney dysfunction was defined as either albuminuria progression, rapid decline in renal function, or the composite endpoint (albuminuria progression and rapid decline in renal function). Logistic regression and simple mediation models were used for the analysis.
Results: In this cohort (mean age, 54.3±9.7 years; follow-up period, 5.9±1.1 years), 42(16.0%), 21(8.0%), and 59(22.5%) patients developed albuminuria progression, rapid eGFR decline, and the composite endpoint of kidney dysfunction, respectively. Logistic regression analysis showed that each standard deviation decrease of baseline LTL and the lower quartile (Q) of baseline LTL were significantly correlated with an increased risk of rapid decline in renal function (OR=1.83 [95% CI 1.07, 3.27] per 1SD, P=0.03; OR=7.57 [95% CI 1.25, 145.88] for Q1 vs. Q4, P for trend=0.031); and the composite endpoint of kidney dysfunction (OR=1.37 [95% CI 0.97, 1.96] per 1SD, borderline positive P=0.072; OR=2.96[95% CI 1.15, 8.2] for Q1 vs. Q4, P for trend=0.036). The mediating analysis showed that tumor necrosis factor (TNF)-a partly mediated the relationship between LTL and rapid decline in renal function (direct effect: β=0.046 95%CI [0.006, 0.090],P=0.02; indirect effect: β=0.013 95%CI [0.003, 0.020]), and the mediating proportion was 22.4%.In subgroup analyses, LTL was inversely associated with rapid decline in renal function or the composite endpoint of kidney dysfunction only in patients with hypertension (OR=49.07[3.72,211.12] vs.1.32[0.69,2.58] per 1SD, P for interaction=0.045;OR=3.10 [1.48, 7.52] vs.1.08[0.92,1.63] per 1SD, P for interaction=0.036).
Conclusion: Baseline LTL could independently predict kidney dysfunction at follow-up, especially in participants with hypertension. TNF-a partially mediated the negative association between LTL and kidney dysfunction.
Keywords: Leukocyte Telomere Length, Renal Dysfunction, Albuminuria, Renal Function Decline, Hypertension, TNF-α