Background: The telomere length and subtelomeric methylated status of peripheral blood leukocytes have been reported to be correlated with many kinds of pathophysiological conditions. However, the correlation between the telomeric parameters and patients' physical ability is not known. Objective: This study aims to study how telomeric parameters, including telomere length and the subtelomeric methylation status of peripheral blood leukocytes, are associated with the physical inability of patients with cerebrovascular disease and its improvement by inpatient rehabilitation. Methods: The physical ability of female patients with cerebrovascular disease admitted in the chronic disease ward of Kyushu University Hospital was assessed using the Barthel index, and the telomeric parameters in their peripheral blood leukocytes were determined by Southern blotting with methylation-sensitive and -insensitive isoschizomers. Results: The patients revealed a significant correlation between Barthel score and the mean telomere length and expression of long telomeres (>9.4 kb). Improvement of the Barthel index of patients during admission was correlated not to telomere length, but to subtelomeric hypermethylation of long telomeres. Conclusions: The physical ability of patients was positively correlated with the lengths of their somatic telomeres, and the recovery potential of physical ability was associated with the subtelomeric hypermethylated status stabilizing long telomeric structure.
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