The association between age and telomere length is age-dependent: Evidence for a threshold model of telomere length maintenance

Ana Á Romero-Haro*, Ellis Mulder, Mark F. Haussmann, Barbara Tschirren

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

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Abstract

Telomere length and dynamics are commonly used biomarkers of somatic state, yet the role of telomeres underlying the aging process is still debated. Indeed, to date, empirical evidence for an association between age and telomere length is mixed. Here, we test if the age-dependency of the association between age and telomere length can provide a potential explanation for the reported inconsistencies across studies. To this end, we quantified telomere length by telomere restriction fragment analysis in two groups of Japanese quail (Coturnix japonica) that differed in their age distribution. One group consisted of young adults only, whereas the second group consisted of adults across a wide range of ages. In the young adults group, there was a highly significant negative association between telomere length and age, whereas no association between age and telomere length was found in the all-ages adults group. This difference between groups was not due to telomere length-dependent selective disappearance. Our results shows that the association between telomere length and age is age-dependent and suggest that the costs and benefits associated with telomere maintenance are dynamic across an individual's life course.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)338-344
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Experimental Zoology Part A: Ecological and Integrative Physiology
Volume341
Issue number4
Early online date22-Jan-2024
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - May-2024

Keywords

  • ageing
  • evolutionary theory of ageing
  • evolutionary trade-offs
  • life-history strategies
  • telomere shortening and attrition

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