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Biogerontology. 2009 Jun;10(3):279-84. doi: 10.1007/s10522-008-9194-y. Epub 2008 Nov 7.

Telomere length dynamics differ in foetal and early post-natal human leukocytes in a longitudinal study.

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Royal Manchester Children's Hospital, Manchester, M27 4HA, UK.


Haemopoietic stem cells (HSC) undergo a process of self renewal to constantly maintain blood cell turnover. However, it has become apparent that adult HSC lose their self-renewal ability with age. Telomere shortening in peripheral blood leukocytes has been seen to occur with age and it has been associated with loss of HSC proliferative capacity and cellular ageing. In contrast foetal HSC are known to have greater proliferative capacity than post-natal stem cells. However it is unknown whether they undergo a similar process of telomere shortening. In this study we show a more accentuated rate of telomere loss in leukocytes from pre term infants compared to human foetuses of comparable age followed longitudinally for 8-12 weeks in a longitudinal study. Our results point to a difference in HSC behaviour between foetal and early postnatal life which is independent of age but may be influenced by events at birth itself.

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