C-reactive protein and telomerase reverse transcriptase (TERT) associate with chronic disease markers in a sample from low-income neighborhoods in Detroit, Michigan

David P. Ferguson, Eric C. Leszczynski, Teresa H. Horton, Karin A. Pfeiffer, Joseph Gardiner, Amber L. Pearson*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Racial and ethnic minorities in economically deprived inner cities experience high rates of chronic diseases compared to neighborhoods with higher socioeconomic status (SES). However, these economically deprived populations are understudied in terms of biomarkers associated with chronic disease risk which include C-reactive protein (CRP), telomerase reverse transcriptase (TERT), and glycosylated hemoglobin (A1C). We examined relationships between CRP and TERT and chronic disease indicators (body mass index [BMI] and A1C) in two low-income, predominantly African American (AA) neighborhoods in Detroit, Michigan. Sixty-nine adults (43 females, 26 males, mean age 46 years [y], standard deviation [SD] ​= ​15.9) completed a health survey, anthropometry, and finger stick blood tests. A1C was measured using A1CNow test strips, and CRP and TERT levels were measured using enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) with samples extracted from dried blood spots. We examined CRP (mean ​= ​4.9, SD ​= ​3.1), TERT (mean ​= ​32.5, SD ​= ​15.1), and A1C (mean ​= ​5.4, SD ​= ​1.0) by BMI category. We fitted restricted maximum likelihood regression models to evaluate associations between CRP, TERT, BMI, and A1C, after adjustment for demographics and inclusion of a random effect for the neighborhood. In this predominantly AA sample (91%, 63/69), 68% had levels of CRP (means ​= ​4.8 ​mg/L, SD ​= ​3.0 for AAs; 6.4 ​mg/L, SD ​= ​3.9 for all others) indicative of chronic inflammation (CRP greater than 3 ​mg/L). BMI was significantly associated with CRP (p ​= ​0.004) and TERT (p ​= ​0.026). TERT levels indicate that being overweight is associated with markers of chromosome remodeling, suggestive of chronic disease. CRP followed a similar trend with overweight individuals having higher inflammation and risk of chronic disease. Our findings warrant further exploration of additional factors that may influence CRP and TERT. Furthermore, examining populations in a more ethnically and/or economically diverse, yet still high proportion minority, sample will fill a knowledge gap in this understudied field.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)275-279
Number of pages5
JournalSports Medicine and Health Science
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 2022


  • Biomarkers
  • Chronic disease
  • Ethnic minority
  • Inequality
  • Urban

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology (medical)
  • General Medicine
  • Rehabilitation
  • Physical Therapy, Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation
  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine


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