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Telomere Length Assessment for Prediction of Organ Transplantation Outcome. Future or Failure: A Review of the Literature

Karolina Kłoda, Leszek Domański, Artur Mierzecki

(Clinical Department of Nephrology, Transplantology and Internal Medicine, Pomeranian Medical University in Szczecin, Szczecin, Poland)

Med Sci Monit 2017; 23:158-162

DOI: 10.12659/MSM.899490


ABSTRACT: Telomeres are located at each end of eukaryotic chromosomes. Their functional role is genomic stability maintenance. The protective role of telomeres depends on various factors, including number of nucleotides repeats, telomere-binding proteins, and telomerase activity. Organ transplantation is the preferred replacement therapy in the case of chronic kidney disease and the only possibility of sustaining recipients’ life in the case of advanced liver failure. While the prevalence of acute rejection is constantly decreasing, prevention of transplanted organ long-term function loss is still challenging. It has been demonstrated that post-transplant stressors accelerate aging of the allografts manifested through telomere shortening.
The aim of this paper was to evaluate the importance of telomere length assessment for prediction of organ transplantation outcome. Literature review included the 10 most important studies regarding linkage between allograft function and telomere erosion, including 2 of our own reports.
Telomere length assessment is useful to predict organ transplantation outcome. The importance of telomere length as a prediction marker depends on the analyzed material. To obtain reliable results, both graft cells (donor material) and lymphocytes (recipient material) should be examined. In the case of kidney transplantation, assessment of telomere length in the early post-transplant period allows prediction of the long-term function of the transplanted organ. To increase the accuracy of transplantation outcome prediction, telomere length assessment should be combined with evaluation of other aging biomarkers, like CDKN2A (p16). Large-scale clinical studies regarding telomere length measurement, including genome wide association analysis introducing relevant genetic factors, are needed for the future.

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