South Asian people have a lower threshold for obesity related complications than Caucasians and as a result have a higher risk of type 2 diabetes (T2DM) and cardiovascular disease (CVD) for a given BMI. Premature biological ageing, assessed by reduction in telomere length (TL), may be mediated by factors resulting from altered metabolic profiles associated with obesity and insulin resistance. We therefore hypothesised that IR is associated with altered metabolic profiles and these profiles may contribute to premature biological ageing. This study aimed to assess TL in a SA T2DM cohort versus a non-diabetic (ND) cohort, to determine the effects of BMI, gender, lipid and CVD profile, on enhanced biological ageing in relation to their chronological age.
Lymphocyte Genomic DNA was obtained from the UK SA Diabetic study. Biochemical and anthropometric data were collected including total cholesterol (TChol), triglycerides (TG) and BMI. ND and T2DM patients were age and BMI matched (age: 4560 yrs; BMI: 2042.5 kg/m2; ND n=76, T2DM n=150). TL was measured by quantitative RT-PCR. Our findings indicate a gender-specific effect with reduced TL observed in diabetic men compared with ND men (P=0.006). Additionally diabetic status maintained a gender-specific effects in diabetic men where TL was inversely correlated with TG and TChol levels (TG:r=−0.419, TChol: r=−0.443 P<0.01). Furthermore, BMI sub-group analysis in males with obesity TG inversely correlated with telomere length (P<0.05). In summary, our studies indicated a reduced TL due diabetic status within the male population, whilst SA male diabetics TL correlated with TG and cholesterol levels. In conclusion, these studies highlight that SA T2DM subjects have enhanced biological ageing, which appears to be tracked by changes in lipids in the T2DM male population, where risk is higher than in an age BMI matched female cohort. This suggests that raised lipids and BMI may directly contribute to premature ageing.