Effects of early-life competition and maternal nutrition on telomere lengths in wild meerkats.
BACKGROUND There have been several reports suggesting that adverse childhood experiences such as physical maltreatment and long institutionalization influence telomere length. However, there has been no study examining the relationship of telomere length with variations in parental rearing. In the present study, we examined the relationship of leukocyte telomere length with parental rearing in healthy subjects. METHODS The subjects were 581 unrelated healthy Japanese subjects. Perceived parental rearing was assessed by the Parental Bonding Instrument consisting of the care and protection factors. Leukocyte relative telomere length was determined by a quantitative real-time PCR method for a ratio of telomere/single copy gene. RESULTS In the multiple regression analyses, shorter telomere length in males was related to lower scores of paternal care (β = 0.139, p < 0.05), while that in females was related to lower scores of maternal care (β = 0.195, p < 0.01). CONCLUSION The present study suggests that there is linear relationship between parental care and telomere length which covers both lower and higher ends of parental care, and that the effects of parental care on telomere length are gender-specific in parents and offsprings.