Telomere correlations during early life in a long-lived seabird

Jacob E. Schmidt, Aubrey E. Sirman, Jeffrey D. Kittilson, Mark E. Clark, Wendy L. Reed, Britt J. Heidinger

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


Telomere dynamics in blood cells have been linked to aging in a variety of organisms. However, whether blood telomeres are correlated with telomeres in other parts of the body is not well known, especially during early life when telomere loss is expected to be most rapid. We investigated this question in Franklin's gulls (Leucophaeus pipixcan) by measuring telomere lengths in blood and several other tissues including: heart, liver, and skeletal muscle at the end of embryonic (n = 31) and post-natal development (n = 20). In late-stage embryos, blood telomeres were significantly positively correlated with heart and skeletal muscle, but not liver telomeres. However, at the end of post-natal development, there were no significant correlations among blood telomeres and telomeres in any other tissues. In late-stage embryos, heart telomeres were significantly longer than blood, liver, and skeletal muscle telomeres, but at the end of post-natal development telomere lengths did not significantly differ among tissues. These results suggest that blood telomere length is not necessarily indicative of other tissues at all stages of development and highlights the importance of understanding any functional consequences of tissue specific telomere dynamics in early life.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)28-32
Number of pages5
JournalExperimental Gerontology
StatePublished - Dec 1 2016
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We are grateful to Alexandra Hett, Grant Edland, Soren Hjort, David Breitbach, and Aaron Kaip for assistance with animal husbandry, to Aurelia Kucera for help with sample collection, and to the rest of our lab group for support and feedback throughout the experiment. All of the experimental procedures were approved by the North Dakota State University IACUC (A13056 and A15066). This work was funded by a ND EPSCoR award ( FAR0022429 ) to BJH. The authors do not have any competing interests.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2016 Elsevier Inc.


  • Aging
  • Early-life
  • Franklin's gull (Leucophaeus pipixcan)
  • Longevity
  • Senescence
  • Telomere


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