Telomere dynamics in wild banded mongooses: Evaluating longitudinal and quasi-longitudinal markers of senescence

Michelle C Hares, Emma I. K. Vitikainen, Harry H. Marshall, Faye J. Thompson, Jonathan D. Blount, Michael A. Cant

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Telomere length and the rate of telomere shortening have been suggested as particularly useful physiological biomarkers of the processes involved in senescent decline of somatic and reproductive function. However, longitudinal data on changes in telomere length across the lifespan are difficult to obtain, particularly for long-lived animals. Quasi-longitudinal studies have been proposed as a method to gain insight into telomere dynamics in long-lived species. In this method, minimally replicative cells are used as the baseline telomere length against which telomere length in highly replicative cells (which represent the current state) can be compared. Here we test the assumptions and predictions of the quasi-longitudinal approach using longitudinal telomere data in a wild cooperative mammal, the banded mongoose, Mungos mungo. Contrary to our prediction, telomere length (TL) was longer in leukocytes than in ear cartilage. Longitudinally, the TL of ear cartilage shortened with age, but there was no change in the TL of leukocytes, and we also observed many individuals in which TL increased rather than decreased with age. Leukocyte TL but not cartilage TL was a predictor of total lifespan, while neither predicted post-sampling survival. Our data do not support the hypothesis that cross-tissue comparison in TL can act as a quasi-longitudinal marker of senescence. Rather, our results suggest that telomere dynamics in banded mongooses are more complex than is typically assumed, and that longitudinal studies across whole life spans are required to elucidate the link between telomere dynamics and senescence in natural populations.

© 2017, published by Elsevier. The attached document (embargoed until 28/09/2018) is an author produced version of a paper published in Experimental Gerontology, uploaded in accordance with the publisher’s self- archiving policy. The final published version (version of record) is available online at the link below. Some minor differences between this version and the final published version may remain. We suggest you refer to the final published version should you wish to cite from it.
Original languageEnglish
JournalExperimental gerontology
Publication statusPublished - 28 Sep 2017

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