Longitudinal analysis of somatic and germ-cell telomere dynamics in outbred mice

Mol Reprod Dev. 2019 Aug;86(8):1033-1043. doi: 10.1002/mrd.23218. Epub 2019 Jun 17.


Although telomere length (TL) shortens with age in most tissues, an age-related increase in length has been described in sperm through a mechanism that is not yet fully understood. Changes in TL with age in the same individual have not been explored. This longitudinal study examines TL dynamics in somatic tissue and gametes during an entire lifespan in an outbred mouse population (from 8 to up to 114 weeks of age). Our findings indicate a reduced life expectancy in males compared to females (84.75 ± 9.23 vs. 113.16 ± 0.20 weeks) and significant variability in TL dynamics between individuals. While with aging, a clear reduction in TL was produced in somatic cells and oocytes, telomeres in sperm cells significantly lengthened. Finally, we found evidence indicating that telomere elongation in sperm during aging may be dependent on different mechanisms, such as the survival of spermatogonia with longer telomeres and the alternative lengthening of telomeres mechanism in meiotic and postmeiotic spermatogenic cells.

Keywords: alternative lengthening of telomeres; oocyte; somatic cell; sperm; telomere.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Animals, Outbred Strains
  • Female
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Oocytes / metabolism*
  • Spermatozoa / metabolism*
  • Telomere / metabolism*
  • Telomere Homeostasis*