The Epigenetic Regulation of Telomeres

March 28, 2011

This blog entry focuses on a specific aspect of telomere biology, the epigenetic regulation of telomeres as mediated by TERRA, a recently-discovered RNA. Most popular discussions related to telomeres and telomerase are still based on simplistic earlier models of telomerase biology which do not take TERRA into account. So are the increasingly-popular commercial approaches to telomere lengthening via “telomerase activator” substances. The new TERRA-related research may explain how diet, certain supplements and lifestyle factors like exercise so profoundly affect telomere lengths and can inhibit cell senescence.

First, as a preamble or appetizer for what follows, regarding the relationship of telomere length and aging I invite you to view this 3-minute video featuring Dr. Nir Barzalai of the Einstein Institute for Aging Research.

Background on telomeres and telomerase.

Although this blog entry focuses on epigenetic regulation as a new and very important aspect of telomere biology, I continue to stand behind what I have written related to telomeres and telomerase reflecting a shift over a three-year period. The most-recent relevant blog entries were written in October 2010: Telomere lengths, Part 3: Selected current research on telomere-related signaling, telomere lengths, cancers and disease processes, Part2: lifestyle, dietary, and other factors associated with telomere shortening and lengthening, and Part1: telomere lengths, cancers and disease processes. These entries contain a great deal of information as well as links to multiple earlier blog entries on telomeres and telomerase. And, of course, the 12th theory of aging discussed in my treatise is Telomere Shortening and Damage. Three years ago, I thought that taking astragaloside IV or cycloastragenol supplements to extend telomeres was possibly a good anti-aging intervention. I no longer see that as the case.

In the abovementioned Part 3 blog entry I discussed how damaged or too-shortened telomeres can lead to epigenetic changes. “Another important contribution to the picture of how cell senescence affects aging is provided by the October 2010 publication Reduced histone biosynthesis and chromatin changes arising from a damage signal at telomeres

For a further scientific and technical discussion on the topic, click on the following link to the original post on Vince Guiliano’s blog,

This video blog entry, like previous ones, is being brought to you in a close collaboration between  Vince Guiliano and Robert Kane Pappas.  They expect to generate several more of these blog entries which are structured around short video segments on aspects of longevity science.Vince is a longevity scientist who has for numerous years surveyed the emerging literature of aging science.  Vince writes perhaps the most popular blog in the field of aging science (formerly known as Anti-Aging Firewalls) where Vince analyzes and  synthesizes results from numerous disparate areas of research in terms of their implications for health and longevity.  The blog is very much the gold standard with over 350 postings, the majority of which are mini-treatises on topics of aging sciences.  Robert is the director of  TO AGE OR NOT TO AGE. Robert captured hundreds of hours of interesting video in shooting the film over a 4-year period, including extensive interviews with a number of prominent aging-science researchers.  It was possible to incorporate only a small fraction of that interesting material in the film itself.  However, Robert will be identifying short interesting segments of materials both in the film and not in the film, and Vince will be remarking on them just as in this blog entry. 


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