Starvation May Change the Type of Paternal but Not Maternal Inheritance of the Telomere Length Throughout Generations: A Retrospective Cohort Study

Leonid Kalichman, Anna M. Chumakova, Arcady Torchinsky, Eugene Kobyliansky


Our aim was to evaluate the effect of starvation on the paternal and maternal inheritance of the leucocyte telomere length (LTL) in three birth cohorts: before, during, and after the Chuvashian famine of 1922–1923. This retrospective cohort study comprised native Chuvash men (n= 678) and women (n=647) born between 1909–1980. Data were gathered during three expeditions: 1994, 1999, 2002, enabling us to treat age and birth year as independent variables. LTL was measured by a quantitative polymerase chain reaction technique. A significant difference in LTL values (χ2 d.f=2=79.04, p<0.0001) was observed between the sexes. In a pedigree-based variance component analysis, ~67.4% of the LTL variation was explained by an additive genetic component. In the entire sample, a significant correlation was observed between the LTL of the parents and offsprings. Fathers born between 1924–1928 demonstrated a significantly stronger LTL correlation with their offsprings. The LTL correlation between mothers and offspring in this group and between parents and offspring in those born after 1928 did not differ from the entire population. We believe that the increased correlation between the LTL in the father-offspring pairs born after starvation in Chuvashia can be explained by differences in the processes of oogenesis and spermatogenesis in humans.

DOI: 10.5671/ca.46.1.1


words: cohort study, famine, inheritance, starvation, telomeres

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