Leukocyte telomere length (LTL) may be sensitive to psychosocial stressors such as discrimination. An inclusive examination of experiences of discrimination on LTL across racial/ethnic and sex groups is currently lacking. Baseline data were obtained from 369 White and African American patients with coronary artery disease (CAD) in the Mental Stress Ischemia Mechanisms and Prognosis Study. LTL was measured from peripheral blood leukocytes by quantitative polymerase chain reaction and calculated in kilobase pairs. Discrimination was measured using the 10-item Everyday Discrimination Scale (EDS). Responses were rated using 4-point Likert scales ranging from never = 1 to often = 4 and summed. Regression models were stratified by race/ethnicity and sex to estimate associations between discrimination and LTL. Each 10-unit increase in experiences of everyday discrimination was associated with an average of .20 fewer kilobase pairs (or 200 base pairs) among both African American women (β = -0.19; 95% CI: -0.35, -0.04; p-value: 0.02) and White women (β = -0.19; 95% CI: -0.37, -0.01; p-value: 0.04), after adjusting for basic demographic factors. Results were similar after further adjusting for behavioral, disease, and psychosocial risk factors (depression and stress). There were no significant associations between experiences of everyday discrimination and LTL for White men or African American men. Overall, experiences of discrimination were associated with shorter LTL among women and not in men. Discrimination may be a potential source of stress associated with shorter LTL among women with CAD. Future studies should explore longitudinal associations between everyday experiences of discrimination and telomere length and also with adverse cardiovascular outcomes.
- Leukocyte telomere length
- Psychosocial stressors
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
- Endocrine and Autonomic Systems
- Psychiatry and Mental health
- Biological Psychiatry