Telomeres shorten at equivalent rates in somatic tissues of adults

Daniali, Lily; Kark, Jeremy D.; Susser, Ezra S.; Benetos, Athanase; Labat, Carlos; Kimura, Masayuki; Desai, Kunji; Granick, Mark; Aviv, Abraham

Telomere shortening in somatic tissues largely reflects stem cell replication. Previous human studies of telomere attrition were predominantly conducted on leukocytes. However, findings in leukocytes cannot be generalized to other tissues. Here we measure telomere length in leukocytes, skeletal muscle, skin and subcutaneous fat of 87 adults (aged 19–77 years). Telomeres are longest in muscle and shortest in leukocytes, yet are strongly correlated between tissues. Notably, the rates of telomere shortening are similar in the four tissues. We infer from these findings that differences in telomere length between proliferative (blood and skin) and minimally proliferative tissues (muscle and fat) are established during early life, and that in adulthood, stem cells of the four tissues replicate at a similar rate.


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Nature Communications

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May 1, 2013