Objectives Telomerase gene variants that lead to accelerated telomere shortening are linked to progressive-fibrosing interstitial lung diseases. However, little is known about their relationships with pneumoconiosis. This study aimed to identify TERT/TERC variants and leucocyte telomere lengths (LTL) in patients with silicosis or asbestosis.
Methods In the present study, Sanger sequencing of TERT/TERC variants was performed in 193 Chinese Han patients with pneumoconiosis, including 109 with silicosis and 84 with asbestosis. Quantitative PCR was used to measure LTL in peripheral blood of the patients and 200 age and sex-matched healthy controls.
Results In total, 7.3% patients with pneumoconiosis had 17 TERT/TERC variants. Among which 8.3% of patients with silicosis and 3.6% of patients with asbestosis had TERT variants, respectively. No TERC variants were detected in silicosis, whereas 3.6% of patients with asbestosis had TERC variants. Telomeres were significantly shorter in the patients with pneumoconiosis compared with healthy controls (p<0.001). No significant differences in LTL were found between TERT/TERC variant carriers and non-carriers. Exposure to silica dust was associated with the severity of pneumoconiosis after adjusting for covariates (OR 4.92, p=0.002). However, TERT/TERC variants and short telomeres were not associated with the severity of pneumoconiosis.
Conclusion Telomerase gene variants and short telomeres may be identified in the patients with silicosis and asbestosis in response to the exposure to silica or asbestos dust but are not related to disease severity.
- clinical medicine
- occupational health
Data availability statement
All data relevant to the study are included in the article or uploaded as supplementary information.
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Contributors Y Fan performed all data collection, analysing the samples and wrote the manuscript. C Zheng and N Wu were responsible for analysing the samples. Y Li and X Huang were responsible for recruiting the patients. Q Ye contributed as primary investigator and was responsible for designing the study, recruiting the patients and writing the manuscript. All authors read and approved the final manuscript. All authors contributed to data interpretation, read and approved the final manuscript.
Competing interests None declared.
Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.
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