Telomere testing: a trendy genetic test that extracts information from DNA in your chromosomes. However, new telomere testing is becoming profoundly popular. A simple face swab, saliva collection, or finger prick can give valuable information about you, your family tree, your lineage, or your risk of contracting diseases. More importantly, it can provide information about your DNA age. However, what are telomeres, and how are telomere tests done? Stay with us to know about telomeres and how accurate is telomere testing.
What Are Telomeres?
Telomeres are regions of receptive DNA sequence. They prevent the DNA replication process or damage from degenerating the ends of the chromosome. There are 194 telomeres in each human cell. Each of the 46 chromosomes has four telomeres that combine thousands of DNA bases. Telomeres cap both ends of all 46 chromosomes in each cell. They protect chromosomes from losing genetic material like the plastic tips at the ends of shoelaces preventing fraying.
Telomerase is the enzyme responsible for maintaining the length of telomeres by adding guanine-rich repetitive sequences. Telomerase consists of protein and RNA. However, most cells are incapable of producing telomerase. Therefore, their telomeres shrink in sync with the cell division clock.
The “flow-FISH” test is one telomere test that explicitly measures the telomere length in each cell within a patient’s blood sample. In flowFISH, doctors poke very tiny holes in the nucleus of each cell and slip in fluorescently labeled DNA that attaches to telomeres. Then, they use a method, flow cytometry, to identify the types of cells in each blood sample and quantify the fluorescent signal in cells one at a time.
There is another telomere length test that uses a tool called quantitative polymerase chain reaction (qPCR). The method supplies the cells in a patient’s blood sample, extracts their DNA, amplifies the DNA, and measures the number of repetitive DNA sequences found within the DNA pool. This method of telomere length test acclaims to predict your biological“age.”
How Accurate is Telomere Testing?
It is often difficult to determine a person’s exact biological age within the average telomere length range. In addition, it may not be a helpful marker of your youthfulness. Remember, the telomere test is an experiment; therefore, do not take the result too seriously.
However, the accuracy of the test varies from lab to lab, doctor to doctor. My Concierge MD is a reliable place where you will find expert doctors and technicians. They perform a precise procedure of telomere tests with accurate information about the length of your telomeres and the condition of the telomerase enzyme.
What Telomere Testing Measures?
Telomere tests typically measure telomere lengths or amounts of telomeric DNA in a blood sample. Each chromosome type has a range of regular telomeres, and the overall distribution of lengths for the 23 pairs of chromosomes varies by cell type. Telomeres protect the ends of DNA and usually shorten with aging. As they are made up of repetitive sequences of DNA, normal telomeres have sufficient length to resist the erosion of a cell.
Cells with short telomeres may withdraw quickly, heading to specific diseases like pulmonary fibrosis and bone marrow failure. People with short telomeres are also likely to develop emphysema, liver disease, myelodysplastic syndrome, and other cancers.
Telomere Testing Myths
Telomere testing is relatively new and still needs further research, knowledge, and comprehension. Therefore, the lack of knowledge may lead to misunderstanding and telomere testing myths.
Telomere Testing Can Tell About Your Lifespan
Many suggest that telomere length measurement can tell you how long you will live. It’s a myth. The Flow-FISH telomere length analysis shows that an individual’s telomere length matches others of the same age. This result can then be categorized on a scale from very low to very high for that specific age group. Physicians use these results to support the diagnosis of Telomere Biology Disorders like dyskeratosis congenital and idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis. However, they do not say anything about your lifespan.
Longer Telomeres Are Better.
You may think that longer telomeres and more telomerase would be beneficial. It seems logical as your cells would live longer, you wouldn’t be at risk of premature cellular aging, and more telomerase will better maintain your telomeres. However, it’s not that simple.
While having short telomeres indicates Telomere Biology Disorders, the opposite is not necessarily a healthier alternative. Longer telomeres let a cell divide more times. There is a chance that an error during genome duplication produces a mutation that promotes cancer with every division. Following Goldilock’s principle, telomeres can be too short or too long, and you can have too much or too little telomerase.
Telomere Testing Is Too Expensive
How accurate is telomere testing is a usual query to many. However, there is another crucial query: is telomere testing expensive? Telomere testing costs less than genetic testing, usually $100-300. Your physicians need access to accurate test information regarding your condition. It helps them to make a conclusive diagnosis with a better understanding. Most importantly, you need to perform the test only once.
What lifestyle modifications are helpful for necessary telomeres?
Your health, lifestyle, and surroundings may affect the shortening of the telomeres. To maintain necessary telomeres with proper length, you need an ideal body weight with low body fat. Focus on reducing visceral fat. In addition, modify your lifestyle: regular exercise, sufficient sleeping for at least 8 hours, stress reduction, and avoiding alcohol and tobacco. Bioidentical hormone replacement therapy may also lower the rate of telomere loss.
When should you do the retesting?
If you are suffering from telomere biology disorder, you may need to perform the test once per year to evaluate the rate and condition of telomeres. It will help the provider determine nutrition adjustment, supplement adjustment, weight management, and other lifestyle modification to influence the telomere length.
Telomere testing is relatively new in the field of medical science. By evaluating the endcap of your chromosome, your physician may determine and diagnose many diseases. However, how accurate is telomere testing?
It is difficult to gain accurate results in telomere testing as telomere size varies from individual to individual. However, Dr. David Nazarian in My Concierge MD is an expert physician near you to perform the perfect telomere testing. With the proper procedure, the specialist doctor and technicians will provide you with the accurate result of telomere testing.