Association of telomere length with general cognitive trajectories: a meta-analysis of four prospective cohort studies

Yiqiang Zhan, Mark S. Clements, Rosebud O Roberts, Maria Vassilaki, Brooke R. Druliner, Lisa Allyn Boardman, Ronald Carl Petersen, Chandra A. Reynolds, Nancy L. Pedersen, Sara Hägg

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

6 Scopus citations


To investigate the association of telomere length (TL) with trajectories of general cognitive abilities, we used data on 5955 participants from the Sex Differences in Health and Aging Study and the Swedish Adoption/Twin Study of Aging in Sweden, and the Mayo Clinic Study of Aging, and the Health and Retirement Study in the United States. TL was measured at baseline, while general cognitive ability was assessed repeatedly up to 7 occasions. Latent growth curve models were used to examine the associations. One standard deviation increase of TL was associated with 0.021 unit increase (95% confidence interval [CI]: 0.001, 0.042) of standardized mean general cognitive ability. After controlling for sex, the point estimate remained similar (0.019) with a wider CI (95% CI: −0.002, 0.039). The association was attenuated with adjustment for educational attainment (0.009, 95% CI: −0.009, 0.028). No strong evidence was observed for the association of TL and decline in general cognitive ability. Longer TL was associated with higher general cognitive ability levels in the age-adjusted models but not in the models including all covariates, nor with cognitive decline.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)111-116
Number of pages6
JournalNeurobiology of Aging
StatePublished - Sep 1 2018



  • Biological aging
  • Cognition
  • Cognitive aging
  • Telomere

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)
  • Aging
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Developmental Biology
  • Geriatrics and Gerontology

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