Nevus size and number are associated with telomere length and represent potential markers of a decreased senescence in vivo.

Research paper by Veronique V Bataille, Bernet S BS Kato, Mario M Falchi, Jeffrey J Gardner, Masayuki M Kimura, Marko M Lens, Ursula U Perks, Ana M AM Valdes, Dot C DC Bennett, Abraham A Aviv, Tim D TD Spector

Indexed on: 14 Jul '07Published on: 14 Jul '07Published in: Cancer epidemiology, biomarkers & prevention : a publication of the American Association for Cancer Research, cosponsored by the American Society of Preventive Oncology


Nevus counts represent one of the strongest risk factors for melanoma. They appear in childhood and adolescence and involute from middle age onwards. Recent evidence has shown that nevus cells undergo oncogene-induced senescence involving the p16/retinoblastoma pathway. However, telomere length also influences senescence in proliferative somatic cells and varies between individuals. This study explores whether telomere length measured in white cells is associated with nevus count and size in 1,897 Caucasian women ages 18 to 79 years. Total body nevus counts were positively correlated with white cell telomere length (mean, 7.09 kbp; range, 5.09-9.37) after adjustment for age (P = 0.0001). Age-adjusted telomere length was also associated with nevus count for nevi above 5 mm in diameter (P = 0.04). Subjects in the top category for nevus count had an average age-adjusted telomere length 150 bp longer than those in the lowest category. The positive correlation between white cell telomere length and nevi number and size may reflect an increased replicative potential (reduced senescence) in individuals with longer telomeres, which may not be melanocyte specific. Understanding mechanisms influencing the induction and involution of nevi will not only help in understanding the pathophysiology of melanoma but should also shed light on the complex relationship between aging and cancer.

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