Pace and stability of embryonic development affect telomere dynamics: an experimental study in a precocial bird model

Stier, A. , Metcalfe, N. B. and Monaghan, P. (2020) Pace and stability of embryonic development affect telomere dynamics: an experimental study in a precocial bird model. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 287(1933), 20201378. (doi: 10.1098/rspb.2020.1378) (PMID:32842933) (PMCID:PMC7482268)

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Prenatal effects on telomere length are increasingly recognized as a potential contributor to the developmental origin of health and adult disease. While it is becoming clear that telomere length is influenced by prenatal conditions, the factors affecting telomere dynamics during embryogenesis remain poorly understood. We manipulated both the pace and stability of embryonic development through varying incubation temperature and its stability in Japanese quail. We investigated the impact on telomere dynamics from embryogenesis to adulthood, together with three potential drivers of telomere shortening, growth rate, oxidative damage and prenatal glucocorticoid levels. Telomere length was not affected by our prenatal manipulation for the first 75% of embryogenesis, but was reduced at hatching in groups experiencing faster (i.e. high temperature) or less stable embryonic development. These early life differences in telomere length persisted until adulthood. The effect of developmental instability on telomere length at hatching was potentially mediated by an increased secretion of glucocorticoid hormones during development. Both the pace and the stability of embryo development appear to be key factors determining telomere length and dynamics into adulthood, with fast and less stable development leading to shorter telomeres, with the potential for adverse associated outcomes in terms of reduced longevity.

Item Type:Articles
Additional Information:The project was funded by a Marie Skłodowska-Curie Postdoctoral Fellowship (grant no. 658085) to A.S., and A.S. was supported by a ‘Turku Collegium for Science and Medicine’ Fellowship at the time of writing.
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Metcalfe, Professor Neil and Stier, Dr Antoine and Monaghan, Professor Pat
Authors: Stier, A., Metcalfe, N. B., and Monaghan, P.
College/School:College of Medical Veterinary and Life Sciences > Institute of Biodiversity Animal Health and Comparative Medicine
Journal Name:Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences
Publisher:The Royal Society
ISSN (Online):1471-2954
Data DOI:10.6084/m9.figshare.9994829.v1

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