Unveiling the effect of telomeres length in cancers development
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Department of Forensic Sciences and Toxicology, Medical School, University of Crete, Heraklion, Greece
Department of Anatomy, Medical School, University of Crete, Heraklion, Greece
Publication date: 2021-09-27
Public Health Toxicol 2021;1(Supplement Supplement 1):A63
Cancer represents the most prominent medical, social, and financial burden regarding cause-specific Disability-Adjusted Life Years (DALYs) among all human pathologies. Given its multifactorial aetiology cancer has been related with a wide variety of risk factors such as exogenous, endogenous and individual, including genetic predisposition. Given that telomeres represent a crosslink connecting numerous inter and intra cellular pathways, great attention has been attracted to them regarding their potential role in cancer development. Telomeres are specific repetitive DNA sequences (5’-TTAGGG-3’) located at the end of chromosomes which, together with sheltering proteins, facilitate the maintenance of chromosomes’ stability and protect them from degradation and damage. Many studies have indicated a correlation between telomere length status and cancer, but do not reach a consensus, suggesting that both long and short telomeres are associated with a high risk of cancer incidence. This review comprehensively examines different types of cancer, focusing on telomere length and cancer incidence association. When evaluating risk associations between cancer and telomere length, a disparity seems to be emerging. In some cases, shorter telomeres seem to be associated with higher risk of cancer, whilst in others longer ones. However, it is demonstrated that both short and long telomeres could promote carcinogenesis, suggesting that the association with cancer risk would vary among telomere length distribution and not be linear. Further studies are needed to detect specific associations and establish telomere length as a cancer-type specific risk marker.
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