Background: Telomeres are specialized nucleoprotein structures located at the ends of chromosomes playing a crucial role in genomic stability. They consist of tandem repeats of the noncoding hexameric TTAGGG sequence. Telomere shortening has been associated with cardiovascular disease, hypertension, type 2 diabetes, atherosclerosis, coronary heart disease and stroke, and has been proposed as a biomarker for ageing and a prognostic factor for age-associated diseases.
Objective and hypotheses: To determine whether decreased or increased intrauterine growth, representing stressful conditions, affects leukocyte telomere length (LTL) at birth.
Methods: One hundred and fifty nine (n=159) full-term newborns participated in the study. Neonates were categorized as IUGR (intrauterine growth restriction) (n=18), LGA (large for gestational age) (n=12) or AGA (appropriate for gestational age) (n=129) based on their customized centiles at birth. Cord blood was collected for DNA extraction, and LTL was determined by multiple monochrome quantitative real-time PCR (MMQRTPCR) and the telomere restriction fragment assay. The mean LTL for each group of newborns was compared and correlated with selected anthropometric parameters of the newborn and the mother.
Results: IUGR and LGA neonates did not have significantly shorter LTL compared with the AGA newborns (IUGR: 12.3±0.46 vs AGA 11.57±0.48, P=0.28 and LGA: 11.55±0.42 vs AGA 11.57±0.48, P=0.98). There was no correlation between the LTL of the newborn and the mothers BMI and age. Furthermore, no statistically significant difference in LTL between boys and girls was noted (boys: 11.52±0.39 vs girls: 12.01±0.42, P=0.4).
Conclusions: IUGR and LGA neonates have similar LTL to that of AGA neonates. Further studies using a larger sample size of IUGR, LGA and AGA newborns are required to confirm whether size at birth and intrauterine stress influences LTL.
10 - 12 Sep 2016
European Society for Paediatric Endocrinology