Relationship Between Current Depressive Symptoms and Telomere Length in a Large, Multiethnic Sample

Objective: Previous research has suggested that depressive symptoms may be associated with telomere length; however, findings have been mixed, and few studies have sought to generalize the results beyond samples of white individuals. The present study, conducted from August 2013 through August 2015, sought to examine the relationship between depressive symptoms and leukocyte telomere length in a large (N = 2,710), multiethnic sample (African American, white, Hispanic) and to determine if this relationship differed across ethnic/racial groups. Analyses were based on data taken from the Dallas Heart Study, a recent epidemiologic-style, population-based study of adults from Dallas County, Texas.

Methods: Depressive symptoms were measured using the Quick Inventory of Depressive Symptomatology, and leukocyte telomere length was measured using a quantitative polymerase chain reaction technique. Analyses of the relationship between depressive symptoms and telomere length were conducted using multiple linear regression models.

Results: Among the whole sample, there was no significant relationship between depressive symptoms and telomere length in either a basic (β = 0.025, P = .190) or an adjusted (β = 0.015, P = .443) model. However, among non-Hispanic white participants, depressive symptoms were significantly associated with telomere length in both basic (β = 0.083, P = .014) and adjusted (β = 0.066, P = .049) models.

Conclusions: These findings suggest that ethnic/racial identification may be a factor in the relationship between depressive symptoms and telomere length and could impact the generalizability of previous research.

J Clin Psychiatry 2017;78(9):1331–1336

https://doi.org/10.4088/JCP.15m10570