Objective Leukocyte telomere length (LTL) is one of the markers of biological aging as shortening occurs over time. Shorter LTL has been associated with adiposity and a higher risk of cardiovascular diseases. The objective was to assess LTL and LTL shortening during the first 2 years of life in healthy, term-born infants and to associate LTL shortening with potential stressors and body composition. Study design In 145 healthy, term-born infants (85 boys), we measured LTL in blood, expressed as telomere to single-gene copy ratio (T/S ratio), at 3 months and 2 years by quantitative PCR technique. Fat mass (FM) was assessed longitudinally by PEAPOD, DXA, and abdominal FM by ultrasound. Results LTL decreased by 8.5% from 3 months to 2 years (T/S ratio 4.10 vs 3.75, p<0.001). LTL shortening from 3 months to 2 years associated with FM%(R = 0.254), FM index(R = 0.243) and visceral FM(R = 0.287) at 2 years. LTL shortening tended to associate with gain in FM% from 3 to 6 months (R = 0.155, p = 0.11), in the critical window for adiposity programming. There was a trend to a shorter LTL in boys at 2 years(p = 0.056). LTL shortening from 3 months to 2 years was not different between sexes. Conclusion We present longitudinal LTL values and show that LTL shortens considerably (8.5%) during the first 2 years of life. LTL shortening during first 2 years of life was associated with FM%, FMI and visceral FM at age 2 years, suggesting that adverse adiposity programming in early life could contribute to more LTL shortening.

dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0246400, hdl.handle.net/1765/134854
Department of Pediatrics

de Fluiter, K.S. (Kirsten S.), Codd, V. (Veryan), Denniff, M, Kerkhof, G.F, van Beijsterveldt, I.A.L.P. (Inge A.L.P.), Breij, L, … Hokken-Koelega, A.C.S. (2021). Longitudinal telomere length and body composition in healthy term-born infants during the first two years of life. PLoS ONE, 16(2 February). doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0246400