An evolutionary review of human telomere biology: The thrifty telomere hypothesis and notes on potential adaptive paternal effects

  title={An evolutionary review of human telomere biology: The thrifty telomere hypothesis and notes on potential adaptive paternal effects},
  author={Dan T. A. Eisenberg},
  journal={American Journal of Human Biology},
  • D. Eisenberg
  • Published 1 March 2011
  • Biology
  • American Journal of Human Biology
Telomeres, repetitive DNA sequences found at the ends of linear chromosomes, play a role in regulating cellular proliferation, and shorten with increasing age in proliferating human tissues. The rate of age‐related shortening of telomeres is highest early in life and decreases with age. Shortened telomeres are thought to limit the proliferation of cells and are associated with increased morbidity and mortality. Although natural selection is widely assumed to operate against long telomeres… 
Commentary: The evolutionary biology of the paternal age effect on telomere length.
The finding suggests that the age at which a man conceives his offspring might have important influences on his children’s health and longevity by altering the length of telomeres that they inherit.
On the comparative biology of mammalian telomeres: Telomere length co-evolves with body mass, lifespan and cancer risk.
The results suggest that shorter TL may have been selected for in larger and longer-lived species - likely as a mechanism to suppress cancer, and support this hypothesis by showing that longer telomeres predict higher cancer risk across 22 species.
Telomere length in reproduction
This review focuses on the function, structure and length dynamics of the telomere in the reproductive process, and finds that spermatozoa, are terminally differentiated cells, have longer telomeres than spermatogonia and pachytene sperMatocytes.
Telomere length and pancreatic cancer risk: breaking down the evidence
Somatic promoter mutations and germ-line sequence variants at TERT (the gene that encodes the catalytic subunit of telomerase reverse transcriptase on chr 5p15) have been observed in various human cancers, indicating extensive pleiotropy at this locus.
Telomere length: lights and shadows on their role in human reproduction
Whether telomeres length in germ cells is related to reproduction fitness, whether telomere length is relatedto pathologies associated with male and female fertility, and whether measurement of telomer length could represent a biomarker of germ cell and embryo quality are analyzed.
The paternal age at conception effect on offspring telomere length: mechanistic, comparative and adaptive perspectives
The hypothesis that the PAC effect on TL may allow a gradual multi-generational adaptive calibration of maintenance effort, and reproductive lifespan, to local demographic conditions is reviewed: descendants of males who reproduced at a later age are likely to find themselves in an environment where increased maintenance effort represents a fitness improving resource allocation.
Paternal age at conception effects on offspring telomere length across species—What explains the variability?
This issue of PLOS Genetics, Bauch and colleagues help to extend the understanding of telomere biology in important ways by taking advantage of a long-term study of jackdaw birds to marshal a large, longitudinal and family-based sample.
Telomeres and human reproduction.
A non-genetic, epigenetic-like mechanism of telomere length inheritance?
The report by Broer et al, indicating both maternal and paternal inheritance, therefore calls for a thorough evaluation of this direct mechanism of TL inheritance, which is an unlikely mechanism in case of X-linked or paternal inheritance.
Maternal and genetic factors determine early life telomere length
This study analysed telomere length measured early in life in both parents and offspring and applied statistical models (so-called ‘animal models') that are based on long-term pedigree data, which revealed a significant heritability and an equally large maternal effect.


Telomeres and Telomerase in the Fetal Origins of Cardiovascular Disease: A Review
Evidence is summarized for one genetic mechanism, telomere attrition, that may underlie the fetal origins of cardiovascular disease and this mechanism is discussed in light of the evolution of senescence.
Short telomeres in short-lived males: what are the molecular and evolutionary causes?
It is found that somatic tissues of the short‐lived males had dramatically shorter telomeres than those of the much longer‐lived queens and workers, and various molecular mechanisms that are likely to cause the observed sex‐specific telomere dynamics in ants are discussed, including cell division, oxidative stress and telomerase activity.
Telomeres and life histories: the long and the short of it
  • P. Monaghan
  • Biology
    Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences
  • 2010
What the authors do and do not know about the links between telomeres length and life histories and the extent to which variations in telomere length and loss rate are useful indicators of aging‐related changes and/or the biological state of individuals are discussed.
Telomere length homeostasis
This model is expanded to incorporate the finding that telomerase levels also limit telomere length and proposes a second switch between a non-telomerase-associated “extendible” and a telomerases-associated "extending” state, which suggests a model in which telomeres switch between extendible and nonextendible states in a length-dependent manner.
Telomeres, cell senescence and human ageing
How uncapped telomeres initiate a signalling cascade toward senescence, and why oxidative stress is a major cause of telomere shortening are reviewed are reviewed.
Cellular senescence, cancer and aging: the telomere connection
Telomere biology in mammalian germ cells and during development.
Telomeres, immune aging and autoimmunity
Telomere loss in relation to age and early environment in long-lived birds
Telomere dynamics in two long–lived seabirds, the European shag and the wandering albatross, are examined, finding high inter–individual variation in the magnitude of telomere loss, much of which was explained by circumstances during growth.
Telomere shortening and ageing of the immune system.
  • L. Kaszubowska
  • Biology
    Journal of physiology and pharmacology : an official journal of the Polish Physiological Society
  • 2008
Lineage-specific telomere shortening with different kinetics of telomeres attrition was observed in CD4+, CD8+ T lymphocytes, B lymphocyte, granulocytes, monocytes and NK cell population.