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Prenatal environment impacts telomere length in newborn dairy heifers

Journal Contribution - Journal Article

Telomere length is associated with longevity and survival in multiple species. In human population-based studies, multiple prenatal factors have been described to be associated with a newborn's telomere length. In the present study, we measured relative leukocyte telomere length in 210 Holstein Friesian heifers, within the first ten days of life. The dam's age, parity, and milk production parameters, as well as environmental factors during gestation were assessed for their potential effect on telomere length. We found that for both primi- and multiparous dams, the telomere length was 1.16% shorter for each day increase in the calf's age at sampling (P = 0.017). The dam's age at parturition (P = 0.045), and the median temperature-humidity index (THI) during the third trimester of gestation (P = 0.006) were also negatively associated with the calves' TL. Investigating multiparous dams separately, only the calf's age at sampling was significantly and negatively associated with the calves' TL (P = 0.025). Results of the present study support the hypothesis that in cattle, early life telomere length is influenced by prenatal factors. Furthermore, the results suggest that selecting heifers born in winter out of young dams might contribute to increased longevity in dairy cattle.
ISSN: 2045-2322
Issue: 1
Volume: 13
Publication year:2023