Deakin University
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Fetal growth restriction shortens cardiac telomere length but this is attenuated by exercise in early life

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journal contribution
posted on 2018-11-01, 00:00 authored by Scott A Booth, Glenn WadleyGlenn Wadley, Francine Z Marques, Mary E Wlodek, Fadi J Charchar
BACKGROUND AND AIMS: Fetal and postnatal growth restriction predispose to cardiovascular disease (CVD) in adulthood. Telomeres are repetitive DNA-protein structures that protect chromosome ends, and the loss of these repeats (a reduction in telomere length) is associated with CVD. As exercise preserves telomere length and cardiovascular health, the aim of this study was to determine the effects of growth restriction and exercise training on cardiac telomere length and telomeric genes. METHODS AND RESULTS: Pregnant Wistar Kyoto rats underwent bilateral uterine vessel ligation to induce uteroplacental insufficiency and fetal growth restriction ('Restricted'). Sham operated rats had either intact litters ('Control') or their litters reduced to five pups with slowed postnatal growth ('Reduced'). Control, Restricted, and Reduced male rats were assigned to Sedentary, Early exercise (5-9 weeks of age) or Late exercise (20-24 weeks of age) groups. Hearts were excised at 24 weeks of age for telomere length and gene expression measurements by qPCR. Growth restriction shortened cardiac telomere length (P<0.001) but this was rescued by early exercise (P<0.001). Early and Late exercise increased cardiac weight index (P<0.001) but neither this nor telomere length was associated with expression of the telomeric genes Tert, Terc, Trf2, Pnuts, or Sirt1. DISCUSSION AND CONCLUSIONS: Growth restriction shortens cardiac telomere length, reflecting the cardiac pathologies associated with low birth weight. Exercise in early life may offer long-term protective effects on cardiac telomere length which could help prevent CVD in later life.



Physiological genomics






956 - 963


American Physiological Society


Bethesda, Md.





Publication classification

C1 Refereed article in a scholarly journal

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2018, American Physiological Society