Successful aging, cognitive function, socioeconomic status, and leukocyte telomere length

Yi HUANG, Onn Siong YIM, Poh San LAI, Rongjun YU, Soo Hong CHEW, Xinyi GWEE, Ma Shwe Zin NYUNT, Qi GAO, Tze Pin NG, Richard P. EBSTEIN*, Jean Philippe GOUIN*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Journal PublicationsJournal Article (refereed)peer-review

13 Citations (Scopus)


In a rapidly greying world, the notion that some individuals maintain successful aging trajectories, viz. high physical, cognitive, emotional, and social functioning in older age, is increasingly germane. Biomarkers of such successful aging are increasingly sought. Leukocyte telomere length (LTL), an emerging yardstick of cellular aging that is influenced by but distinct from chronological age, may also be associated to successful aging. Furthermore, given that socio-economic status (SES) influences successful aging trajectories, socioeconomic status may also moderate the association between chronological age and LTL. The goals of this study are to examine 1) whether successful aging is associated with LTL; 2) whether successful aging accounts for age-related LTL and 3) whether SES moderates the effect of age on LTL. Singaporean Chinese (n = 353) aged 65–80 completed a multidimensional assessment of successful aging and provided blood samples for LTL analysis. Results show that LTL negatively correlates with chronological age and positively correlates with successful aging. Successful aging mediates the association between chronological age and LTL. Moderated mediation analyses show that lower SES is associated with stronger negative associations of chronological age with successful aging and LTL. Moreover, the cognitive functioning dimension of successful aging is uniquely associated with LTL and its association with chronological age is moderated by SES. This study provides evidence that among older Singaporean Chinese with lower SES, declines in successful aging and in cognitive functioning are linked to age-related LTL shortening and hence to accelerated aging at the cellular level.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)180-187
Number of pages8
Publication statusPublished - May 2019
Externally publishedYes


  • Cognitive function
  • Leukocyte telomere length
  • Socioeconomic status
  • Successful aging


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