Preterm infants have significantly longer telomeres than their term born counterparts

Journal article


Vasu, V., Turner, K., George, S., Greenall, J., Slijepcevic, P. and Griffin, D. 2017. Preterm infants have significantly longer telomeres than their term born counterparts. PLoS ONE. 12 (6). https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0180082
AuthorsVasu, V., Turner, K., George, S., Greenall, J., Slijepcevic, P. and Griffin, D.
Abstract

There are well-established morbidities associated with preterm birth including respiratory, neurocognitive and developmental disorders. However several others have recently emerged that characterise an `aged' phenotype in the preterm infant by term-equivalent age. These include hypertension, insulin resistance and altered body fat distribution. Evidence shows that these morbidities persist into adult life, posing a significant public health concern. In this study, we measured relative telomere length in leukocytes as an indicator of biological ageing in 25 preterm infants at term equivalent age. Comparing our measurements with those from 22 preterm infants sampled at birth and from 31 term-born infants, we tested the hypothesis that by term equivalent age, preterm infants have significantly shorter telomeres (thus suggesting that they are prematurely aged). Our results demonstrate that relative telomere length is highly variable in newborn infants and is significantly negatively correlated with gestational age and birth weight in preterm infants. Further, longitudinal assessment in preterm infants who had telomere length measurements available at both birth and term age (n = 5) suggests that telomere attrition rate is negatively correlated with increasing gestational age. Contrary to our initial hypothesis however, relative telomere length was significantly shortest in the term born control group compared to both preterm groups and longest in the preterm at birth group. In addition, telomere lengths were not significantly different between preterm infants sampled at birth and those sampled at term equivalent age. These results indicate that other, as yet undetermined, factors may influence telomere length in the preterm born infant and raise the intriguing hypothesis that as preterm gestation declines, telomere attrition rate increases.

Year2017
JournalPLoS ONE
Journal citation12 (6)
PublisherPublic Library of Science
ISSN1932-6203
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0180082
Publication dates
Print29 Jun 2017
Publication process dates
Deposited30 Jun 2017
Publisher's version
Output statusPublished
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https://repository.canterbury.ac.uk/item/88385/preterm-infants-have-significantly-longer-telomeres-than-their-term-born-counterparts

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