Journal Article

Paternal age at birth is an important determinant of offspring telomere length

Tim De Meyer, Ernst R. Rietzschel, Marc L. De Buyzere, Dirk De Bacquer, Wim Van Criekinge, Guy G. De Backer, Thierry C. Gillebert, Patrick Van Oostveldt and Sofie Bekaert

in Human Molecular Genetics

Volume 16, issue 24, pages 3097-3102
Published in print December 2007 | ISSN: 0964-6906
Published online September 2007 | e-ISSN: 1460-2083 | DOI:
Paternal age at birth is an important determinant of offspring telomere length

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Although evidence supports the function of telomere length (TL) as a marker for biological aging, no major determinants of TL are known besides inheritance, age and gender. Here we validate and, more importantly, assess the impact of paternal age at birth as a determinant for the offspring’s peripheral blood leukocyte TL within the Asklepios study population. Telomere restriction fragment length and paternal age information were available for 2433 volunteers (1176 men and 1257 women) aged ~35–55 years old. Paternal age at birth was positively associated with offspring TL (offspring age and gender adjusted, P < 10 (−14)). The increase in TL was estimated at 17 base pairs for each supplemental year at birth and was not statistically different between male and female offspring. The effect size of paternal age outweighed the classical TL determinant gender by a factor of 2, demonstrating the large impact. Maternal age at birth was not independently associated with offspring TL. The peculiar interaction between paternal age at birth and inheritance might explain a large part of the genetic component of TL variance on a population level. This finding also provides further proof for the theory that TL is not completely reset in the zygote. Furthermore, as paternal age is subject to demographic evolution, its association with TL might have a substantial impact on the results and comparability of TL within and between epidemiological studies. In conclusion, paternal age is an important determinant for TL, with substantial consequences for future studies.

Journal Article.  3290 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Genetics and Genomics

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