Among patients with poor cardiac health, gastric bypass surgery was tied to telomere lengthening, researchers reported.
In a small study of patients with obesity who underwent laparoscopic gastric bypass surgery, those who had elevated inflammatory markers and lipid levels prior to surgery experienced a significant lengthening of their telomeres — a marker for cellular aging — 1 year following surgery, according to John Morton, MD, MPH, of Stanford University School of Medicine in Calif., and colleagues.
Specifically, patients with an LDL cholesterol levels >140 mg/dL before surgery saw around a 0.0227 increase in the length of their telomeres compared with a 0.0271 decrease in telomere length seen in patients with normal LDL levels (P=0.04), they wrote in a research letter in JAMA Surgery.
Additionally, patients with higher than average high-sensitivity C-reactive protein (CRP) levels before surgery (>7 mg/L) saw a significant change in the length of their telomeres 12 months following gastric bypass, which was not seen in patients who had lower than average CRP levels: -0.02294 change in length (low CRP vs +0.04125 change [high CRP], P=0.005).
Among these patients with higher than average CRP levels prior to surgery, there was also a significant positive correlation between the amounts of weight they lost with lengthening of telomeres (r=0.879, P=0.0498).
Changes in telomere length weren’t significantly in the overall cohort, however, as this finding was limited only to patients with elevated CRP and LDL levels prior to surgery.
“Although this study is limited by the small study population and a single site intervention, this finding suggests that the greatest potential benefit for slowing the aging process as expressed by telomere lengthening is in patients with the most comorbidity before surgery,” Morton’s group wrote.
The analysis included 51 patients who underwent surgery at a single center. Telomere length was determined by creating a relative telomere to single copy gene ratio from a quantitative polymerase chain reaction. Total cholesterol, LDL, HDL, and high-sensitive CRP levels were also assessed prior to surgery, as well as 3 month, 6 month, and 12 month postoperative.
Out of the entire group of patients, 12-month weight loss was marked by an average BMI reduction of over 12 points, as well as over a 70% excess weight loss. All cardiac markers also improved over the year after surgery, although only HDL cholesterol significantly changed:
- CRP level: 6.7 to 3.6 mg/L (P=0.12)
- LDL cholesterol: 96.8 to 102 mg/dL (P=0.58)
- HDL cholesterol: 45.3 to 56.3mg/dL (P=0.004)
Study limitations included the small sample size, single-site intervention, and the fact that only laparoscopic gastric bypass was included.
Morton and co-authors disclosed no relevant relationships with industry.