Telomere length (TL) in blood has been extensively studied as a biomarker of aging and aging-associated disease. TL in blood cells is commonly used as a proxy for TL in other tissue types. The source of DNA of adequate quality and quantity is an important consideration in telomere length analysis. Compared to blood cells, buccal cells easy for genomic DNA preparation would facilitate the rapid and reliable telomere length analysis. However, the feasibility of buccal cells for TL analysis remains yet unestablished.
A total of 52 participants ranged in age from 18 to 80 years including 24 males and 28 females were included in this study. Both buccal and blood samples were taken at the same time by using buccal cell swabs and fingertip stick from each participant. Relative telomere length (RTL) was analyzed using the quantitative real-time polymerase chain reaction (qPCR) method.
The results indicate that there is a strong positive correlation between buccal RTL and blood RTL and negative correlation between both buccal RTL and blood RTL with age.
The validity of sampling using buccal cell swabs provides simple operation and good reproducibility for telomere length analysis, which overcomes the discomfort and risk of infection caused by blood sampling.