The relationship between telomere length and mortality risk in non-model vertebrate systems: a meta-analysis

Wilbourn, R. V., Moatt, J. P., Froy, H., Walling, C. A., Nussey, D. H. and Boonekamp, J. J. (2018) The relationship between telomere length and mortality risk in non-model vertebrate systems: a meta-analysis. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 373(1741), p. 20160447. (doi: 10.1098/rstb.2016.0447) (PMID:29335371) (PMCID:PMC5784067)

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Abstract

Telomere length (TL) has become a biomarker of increasing interest within ecology and evolutionary biology, and has been found to predict subsequent survival in some recent avian studies but not others. Here, we undertake the first formal meta-analysis to test whether there is an overall association between TL and subsequent mortality risk in vertebrates other than humans and model laboratory rodents. We identified 27 suitable studies and obtained standardized estimates of the hazard ratio associated with TL from each. We performed a meta-analysis on these estimates and found an overall significant negative association implying that short telomeres are associated with increased mortality risk, which was robust to evident publication bias. While we found that heterogeneity in the hazard ratios was not explained by sex, follow-up period, maximum lifespan or the age group of the study animals, the TL–mortality risk association was stronger in studies using qPCR compared to terminal restriction fragment methodologies. Our results provide support for a consistent association between short telomeres and increased mortality risk in birds, but also highlight the need for more research into non-avian vertebrates and the reasons why different telomere measurement methods may yield different results. This article is part of the theme issue ‘Understanding diversity in telomere dynamics’.

Item Type:Articles
Status:Published
Refereed:Yes
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Boonekamp, Dr Jelle
Authors: Wilbourn, R. V., Moatt, J. P., Froy, H., Walling, C. A., Nussey, D. H., and Boonekamp, J. J.
College/School:College of Medical Veterinary and Life Sciences > Institute of Biodiversity Animal Health and Comparative Medicine
Journal Name:Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences
Publisher:The Royal Society
ISSN:0962-8436
ISSN (Online):1471-2970
Published Online:15 January 2018
Copyright Holders:Copyright © 2018 The Author(s)
First Published:First published in Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences 373:20160447
Publisher Policy:Reproduced under a Creative Commons License

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