Center for Studies in Demography and Ecology

NewScientist Features Dan Eisenberg’s Work on Fathers’ Telomere Length and Children’s Longevity

Posted: 4/29/2019 (CSDE Research)

Dan Eisenberg, CSDE Affiliate and Associate Professor of Anthropology, studied the DNA of nearly 3000 grandparents, plus their children and grandchildren, and found that a child’s telomere length correlates with the age at which their fathers and grandfathers reproduced. Telomeres are stretches of repetitive DNA at the ends of our chromosomes. These shorten each time a cell divides, so usually get shorter over a lifetime.

Because telomere length may play a role in longevity, this could represent older fathers adapting their children’s DNA for an environment in which it may be possible to live a longer life, says Eisenberg. “The father’s age at reproduction is likely to be containing a signal about what the recent environment was like,” he says. “It breaks some of the ways
biology is supposed to work.”

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