This study aimed to explore the new role of telomere length (TL) in the novel classification of type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM) patients driven by cluster analysis.
A total of 541 T2DM patients were divided into 4 subgroups by k-means analysis: mild obesity-related diabetes (MOD), severe insulin-deficient diabetes (SIDD), severe insulin-resistant diabetes (SIRD), and mild age-related diabetes (MARD). After patients with insufficient data were excluded, further analysis was conducted on 246 T2DM patients. The TL was detected using telomere restriction fragment, and the related diabetic indexes were also measured by clinical standard procedures.
The MARD group had significantly shorter TLs than the MOD and SIDD groups. Then, we subdivided all T2DM patients into the MARD and NONMARD groups, which included the MOD, SIDD, and SIRD groups. The TLs of the MARD group, associated with age, were discovered to be significantly shorter than those of the NONMARD group (p = 0.0012), and this difference in TL disappeared after metformin (p = 0.880) and acarbose treatment (p = 0.058). The linear analysis showed that metformin can more obviously reduce telomere shortening in the MARD group (r = 0.030, 95% CI 0.010-0.051, p = 0.004), and acarbose can more apparently promote telomere attrition in the SIRD group (r = -0.069, 95% CI -0.100 to -0.039, p< 0.001) compared with other T2DM patients after adjusting for age and gender.
The MARD group was found to have shorter TLs and benefit more from the antiaging effect of metformin than other T2DM. Shorter TLs were observed in the SIRD group after acarbose use.

© 2020 S. Karger AG, Basel.