Sex difference in leukocyte telomere length is ablated in opposite-sex co-twins

Athanase Benetos, Christine Dalgård, Carlos Labat, Jeremy D. Kark, Simon Verhulst, Kaare Christensen, Masayuki Kimura, Kent Horvath, Kirsten Ohm Kyvik, Abraham Aviv

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

22 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Background: In eutherian mammals and in humans, the female fetus may be masculinized while sharing the intra-uterine environment with a male fetus. Telomere length (TL), as expressed in leukocytes, is heritable and is longer in women than in men. The main determinant of leukocyte TL (LTL) is LTL at birth. However, LTL is modified by age-dependent attrition. Methods: We studied LTL dynamics (LTL and its attrition) in adult same-sex (monozygotic, n = 268; dizygotic, n = 308) twins and opposite-sex (n = 144) twins. LTL was measured by Southern blots of the terminal restriction fragments. Results: We observed that in same-sex (both monozygotic and dizygotic) twins, as reported in singletons, LTL was longer in females than in males [estimate ± standard error (SE):163 ± 63 bp, P < 0.01]. However, in opposite-sex twins, female LTL was indistinguishable from that of males (31 ± 52 bp, P = 0.6), whereas male LTL was not affected. Findings were similar when the comparison was restricted to opposite-sex and same-sex dizygotic twins (females relative to males: same-sex: 188 ± 90 bp, P < 0.05; other-sex: 32 ± 64 bp, P = 0.6).Conclusions: These findings are compatible with masculinization of the female fetus in opposite-sex twins. They suggest that the sex difference in LTL, seen in the general population, is largely determined in utero, perhaps by the intrauterine hormonal environment. Further studies in newborn twins are warranted to test this thesis.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numberdyu146
Pages (from-to)1799-1805
Number of pages7
JournalInternational journal of epidemiology
Volume43
Issue number6
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 1 2014

Fingerprint

Telomere
Sex Characteristics
Leukocytes
Dizygotic Twins
Fetus
Monozygotic Twins
Southern Blotting
Mammals
Parturition
Newborn Infant

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Epidemiology

Keywords

  • Men
  • Sex
  • Telomeres
  • Twins
  • Women

Cite this

Benetos, A., Dalgård, C., Labat, C., Kark, J. D., Verhulst, S., Christensen, K., ... Aviv, A. (2014). Sex difference in leukocyte telomere length is ablated in opposite-sex co-twins. International journal of epidemiology, 43(6), 1799-1805. [dyu146]. https://doi.org/10.1093/ije/dyu146
Benetos, Athanase ; Dalgård, Christine ; Labat, Carlos ; Kark, Jeremy D. ; Verhulst, Simon ; Christensen, Kaare ; Kimura, Masayuki ; Horvath, Kent ; Kyvik, Kirsten Ohm ; Aviv, Abraham. / Sex difference in leukocyte telomere length is ablated in opposite-sex co-twins. In: International journal of epidemiology. 2014 ; Vol. 43, No. 6. pp. 1799-1805.
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abstract = "Background: In eutherian mammals and in humans, the female fetus may be masculinized while sharing the intra-uterine environment with a male fetus. Telomere length (TL), as expressed in leukocytes, is heritable and is longer in women than in men. The main determinant of leukocyte TL (LTL) is LTL at birth. However, LTL is modified by age-dependent attrition. Methods: We studied LTL dynamics (LTL and its attrition) in adult same-sex (monozygotic, n = 268; dizygotic, n = 308) twins and opposite-sex (n = 144) twins. LTL was measured by Southern blots of the terminal restriction fragments. Results: We observed that in same-sex (both monozygotic and dizygotic) twins, as reported in singletons, LTL was longer in females than in males [estimate ± standard error (SE):163 ± 63 bp, P < 0.01]. However, in opposite-sex twins, female LTL was indistinguishable from that of males (31 ± 52 bp, P = 0.6), whereas male LTL was not affected. Findings were similar when the comparison was restricted to opposite-sex and same-sex dizygotic twins (females relative to males: same-sex: 188 ± 90 bp, P < 0.05; other-sex: 32 ± 64 bp, P = 0.6).Conclusions: These findings are compatible with masculinization of the female fetus in opposite-sex twins. They suggest that the sex difference in LTL, seen in the general population, is largely determined in utero, perhaps by the intrauterine hormonal environment. Further studies in newborn twins are warranted to test this thesis.",
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Benetos, A, Dalgård, C, Labat, C, Kark, JD, Verhulst, S, Christensen, K, Kimura, M, Horvath, K, Kyvik, KO & Aviv, A 2014, 'Sex difference in leukocyte telomere length is ablated in opposite-sex co-twins', International journal of epidemiology, vol. 43, no. 6, dyu146, pp. 1799-1805. https://doi.org/10.1093/ije/dyu146

Sex difference in leukocyte telomere length is ablated in opposite-sex co-twins. / Benetos, Athanase; Dalgård, Christine; Labat, Carlos; Kark, Jeremy D.; Verhulst, Simon; Christensen, Kaare; Kimura, Masayuki; Horvath, Kent; Kyvik, Kirsten Ohm; Aviv, Abraham.

In: International journal of epidemiology, Vol. 43, No. 6, dyu146, 01.12.2014, p. 1799-1805.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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AU - Benetos, Athanase

AU - Dalgård, Christine

AU - Labat, Carlos

AU - Kark, Jeremy D.

AU - Verhulst, Simon

AU - Christensen, Kaare

AU - Kimura, Masayuki

AU - Horvath, Kent

AU - Kyvik, Kirsten Ohm

AU - Aviv, Abraham

PY - 2014/12/1

Y1 - 2014/12/1

N2 - Background: In eutherian mammals and in humans, the female fetus may be masculinized while sharing the intra-uterine environment with a male fetus. Telomere length (TL), as expressed in leukocytes, is heritable and is longer in women than in men. The main determinant of leukocyte TL (LTL) is LTL at birth. However, LTL is modified by age-dependent attrition. Methods: We studied LTL dynamics (LTL and its attrition) in adult same-sex (monozygotic, n = 268; dizygotic, n = 308) twins and opposite-sex (n = 144) twins. LTL was measured by Southern blots of the terminal restriction fragments. Results: We observed that in same-sex (both monozygotic and dizygotic) twins, as reported in singletons, LTL was longer in females than in males [estimate ± standard error (SE):163 ± 63 bp, P < 0.01]. However, in opposite-sex twins, female LTL was indistinguishable from that of males (31 ± 52 bp, P = 0.6), whereas male LTL was not affected. Findings were similar when the comparison was restricted to opposite-sex and same-sex dizygotic twins (females relative to males: same-sex: 188 ± 90 bp, P < 0.05; other-sex: 32 ± 64 bp, P = 0.6).Conclusions: These findings are compatible with masculinization of the female fetus in opposite-sex twins. They suggest that the sex difference in LTL, seen in the general population, is largely determined in utero, perhaps by the intrauterine hormonal environment. Further studies in newborn twins are warranted to test this thesis.

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Benetos A, Dalgård C, Labat C, Kark JD, Verhulst S, Christensen K et al. Sex difference in leukocyte telomere length is ablated in opposite-sex co-twins. International journal of epidemiology. 2014 Dec 1;43(6):1799-1805. dyu146. https://doi.org/10.1093/ije/dyu146