(HealthDay News) – Patients with major depressive disorder (MDD) have shorter telomeres, indicating accelerated cellular aging, according to a study published online Nov. 12 in Molecular Psychiatry.

Josine E. Verhoeven, from the VU University Medical Centre in Amsterdam, and colleagues measured telomere length in 1,095 current MDD patients, 802 remitted MDD patients, and 510 control subjects.

The researchers found that telomere length was significantly shorter in patients with MDD (5,459 base pairs vs. 5,541 base pairs), including those with remitted MDD, even after adjusting for health and lifestyle. In MDD patients, shorter telomeres were significantly associated with greater depression severity and longer symptom duration in the past four years.

“Our results demonstrate that depressed patients show accelerated cellular aging according to a ‘dose-response’ gradient: those with the most severe and chronic MDD showed the shortest telomere length,” Verhoeven and colleagues conclude.

One author is a co-founder of Telome Health, a telomere measurement company.

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