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. 2017 Nov 21;15(1):205.
doi: 10.1186/s12916-017-0964-8.

Telomere Tracking From Birth to Adulthood and Residential Traffic Exposure

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Free PMC article

Telomere Tracking From Birth to Adulthood and Residential Traffic Exposure

Esmée M Bijnens et al. BMC Med. .
Free PMC article

Abstract

Background: Telomere attrition is extremely rapid during the first years of life, while lifestyle during adulthood exerts a minor impact. This suggests that early life is an important period in the determination of telomere length. We investigated the importance of the early-life environment on both telomere tracking and adult telomere length.

Methods: Among 184 twins of the East Flanders Prospective Twin Survey, telomere length in placental tissue and in buccal cells in young adulthood was measured. Residential addresses at birth and in young adulthood were geocoded and residential traffic and greenness exposure was determined.

Results: We investigated individual telomere tracking from birth over a 20 year period (mean age (SD), 22.6 (3.1) years) in association with residential exposure to traffic and greenness. Telomere length in placental tissue and in buccal cells in young adulthood correlated positively (r = 0.31, P < 0.0001). Persons with higher placental telomere length at birth were more likely to have a stronger downward shift in telomere ranking over life (P < 0.0001). Maternal residential traffic exposure correlated inversely with telomere length at birth. Independent of birth placental telomere length, telomere ranking between birth and young adulthood was negatively and significantly associated with residential traffic exposure at the birth address, while traffic exposure at the residential address at adult age was not associated with telomere length.

Conclusions: Longitudinal evidence of telomere length tracking from birth to adulthood shows inverse associations of residential traffic exposure in association with telomere length at birth as well as accelerated telomere shortening in the first two decades of life.

Keywords: Telomere length; Tracking; Traffic.

Conflict of interest statement

Ethics approval and consent to participate

Written informed consent was obtained from all participants, and ethical approval was given by the Ethics Committee of the Faculty of Medicine of the Katholieke Universiteit Leuven (reference no. B32220096237).

Consent for publication

Not applicable.

Competing interests

The authors declare that they have no competing interests.

Publisher's Note

Springer Nature remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations.

Figures

Fig. 1
Fig. 1
The present study sample consisted of 233 twins of Caucasian origin (99% naturally conceived), born between 1969 and 1982, who participated in a prenatal programming study and had both placental telomere length and buccal swabs at adulthood available. We excluded 49 participants from our analysis (1) because DNA quality or concentration was insufficient (n = 21) or because triplicate measurements of telomere length were too variable (difference in quantification cycle more than 0.50) (n = 7), (2) because residential address was missing (n = 10), or (3) because information on smoking status during pregnancy was not filled out in the questionnaire (n = 11). The number of twins included in our analysis was 184
Fig. 2
Fig. 2
Relative telomere length in buccal cells in young adulthood in association with relative placental telomere length at birth
Fig. 3
Fig. 3
a Relative telomere length in buccal cells in adulthood (log) in association with distance to major road at the residential address at birth. b Difference in telomere length ranking between birth and adulthood adjusted for telomere length in placental tissue is associated with distance to major road at the residential address at birth
Fig. 4
Fig. 4
Distance to the nearest major road in association with (a) telomere length in buccal cells and (b) change in telomere length ranking between birth and adulthood. Adjusted for newborn sex, birth weight, gestational age, zygosity and chorionicity, parental educational level, maternal smoking during pregnancy, maternal age, adult age, smoking in adulthood, gamma-glutamyl transferase in fasting blood in adulthood (as an index for alcohol consumption), and telomere length in placental tissue at birth. Vertical lines denote 95% confidence intervals. *Indicates a significant (P < 0.05) change in buccal telomere length in adulthood or a change in telomere ranking. Effect size for a two-fold increase in distance from residence to major road in early/adult life (based on a model with log distance) in movers (n = 122) or in distance from residence to major road during whole life in non-movers (n = 62)

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