1. Epidemiology and Global Health
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Telomere length is associated with growth in children in rural Bangladesh

  1. Audrie Lin  Is a corresponding author
  2. Andrew N Mertens
  3. Benjamin F Arnold
  4. Sophia Tan
  5. Jue Lin
  6. Christine P Stewart
  7. Alan E Hubbard
  8. Shahjahan Ali
  9. Jade Benjamin-Chung
  10. Abul K Shoab
  11. Md Ziaur Rahman
  12. Syeda L Famida
  13. Md. Saheen Hossen
  14. Palash Mutsuddi
  15. Salma Akther
  16. Mahbubur Rahman
  17. Leanne Unicomb
  18. Ruchira Tabassum Naved
  19. Md. Mahfuz Al Mamun
  20. Kausar Parvin
  21. Firdaus S Dhabhar
  22. Patricia Kariger
  23. Lia C H Fernald
  24. Stephen P Luby
  25. John M Colford Jr.
  1. University of California, Berkeley, United States
  2. University of California San Francisco, United States
  3. University of California, San Francisco, United States
  4. University of California, Davis, United States
  5. International Centre for Diarrhoeal Disease Research, Bangladesh, Bangladesh
  6. Stanford University, United States
  7. University of Miami, United States
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Cite this article as: eLife 2021;10:e60389 doi: 10.7554/eLife.60389

Abstract

Background: Previously, we demonstrated that a water, sanitation, handwashing, and nutritional intervention improved linear growth and was unexpectedly associated with shortened childhood telomere length (TL) (Lin et al., 2017). Here, we assessed the association between TL and growth.

Methods: We measured relative TL in whole blood from 713 children. We reported differences between the 10th percentile and 90th percentile of TL or change in TL distribution using generalized additive models, adjusted for potential confounders.

Results: In cross-sectional analyses, long TL was associated with a higher length-for-age Z score at age 1 year (0.23 SD adjusted difference in length-for-age Z score (95% CI 0.05, 0.42; FDR-corrected p-value = 0.01)). TL was not associated with other outcomes.

Conclusions: Consistent with the metabolic telomere attrition hypothesis, our previous trial findings support an adaptive role for telomere attrition, whereby active TL regulation is employed as a strategy to address 'emergency states' with increased energy requirements such as rapid growth during the first year of life. Although short periods of active telomere attrition may be essential to promote growth, this study suggests that a longer overall initial TL setting in the first two years of life could signal increased resilience against future telomere erosion events and healthy growth trajectories.

Funding: Funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

Data availability

The WASH Benefits data and code that support the findings of this study are available in Open Science Framework (https://osf.io/9snat/).

The following data sets were generated
The following previously published data sets were used
    1. Lin A
    2. Mertens AN
    3. Arnold BF
    (2017) WASH Benefits Bangladesh Analysis of Telomere Outcomes
    Open Science Framework, https://doi.org/10.17605/OSF.IO/EVC98.

Article and author information

Author details

  1. Audrie Lin

    School of Public Health, University of California, Berkeley, Berkeley, United States
    For correspondence
    audrielin@berkeley.edu
    Competing interests
    No competing interests declared.
    ORCID icon "This ORCID iD identifies the author of this article:" 0000-0002-3877-3469
  2. Andrew N Mertens

    School of Public Health, University of California, Berkeley, Berkeley, United States
    Competing interests
    No competing interests declared.
    ORCID icon "This ORCID iD identifies the author of this article:" 0000-0002-1050-6721
  3. Benjamin F Arnold

    Francis I. Proctor Foundation, University of California San Francisco, San Francisco, United States
    Competing interests
    No competing interests declared.
    ORCID icon "This ORCID iD identifies the author of this article:" 0000-0001-6105-7295
  4. Sophia Tan

    School of Public Health, University of California, Berkeley, Berkeley, United States
    Competing interests
    No competing interests declared.
  5. Jue Lin

    Department of Biochemistry and Biophysics, University of California, San Francisco, San Francisco, United States
    Competing interests
    Jue Lin, co-founder of Telomere Diagnostics Inc., a telomere measurement company. Assays and all other activity for the current report are, however, unrelated to this company..
  6. Christine P Stewart

    Department of Nutrition, University of California, Davis, Davis, United States
    Competing interests
    No competing interests declared.
  7. Alan E Hubbard

    School of Public Health, University of California, Berkeley, Berkeley, United States
    Competing interests
    No competing interests declared.
  8. Shahjahan Ali

    Nutrition and Clinical Services Division, International Centre for Diarrhoeal Disease Research, Bangladesh, Dhaka, Bangladesh
    Competing interests
    No competing interests declared.
    ORCID icon "This ORCID iD identifies the author of this article:" 0000-0003-3883-1208
  9. Jade Benjamin-Chung

    Stanford University, Stanford, United States
    Competing interests
    No competing interests declared.
  10. Abul K Shoab

    Infectious Disease Division, International Centre for Diarrhoeal Disease Research, Bangladesh, Dhaka, Bangladesh
    Competing interests
    No competing interests declared.
  11. Md Ziaur Rahman

    Infectious Disease Division, International Centre for Diarrhoeal Disease Research, Bangladesh, Dhaka, Bangladesh
    Competing interests
    No competing interests declared.
  12. Syeda L Famida

    Infectious Disease Division, International Centre for Diarrhoeal Disease Research, Bangladesh, Dhaka, Bangladesh
    Competing interests
    No competing interests declared.
  13. Md. Saheen Hossen

    Infectious Disease Division, International Centre for Diarrhoeal Disease Research, Bangladesh, Dhaka, Bangladesh
    Competing interests
    No competing interests declared.
  14. Palash Mutsuddi

    Infectious Disease Division, International Centre for Diarrhoeal Disease Research, Bangladesh, Dhaka, Bangladesh
    Competing interests
    No competing interests declared.
  15. Salma Akther

    Infectious Disease Division, International Centre for Diarrhoeal Disease Research, Bangladesh, Dhaka, Bangladesh
    Competing interests
    No competing interests declared.
  16. Mahbubur Rahman

    Infectious Disease Division, International Centre for Diarrhoeal Disease Research, Bangladesh, Dhaka, Bangladesh
    Competing interests
    No competing interests declared.
  17. Leanne Unicomb

    Infectious Disease Division, International Centre for Diarrhoeal Disease Research, Bangladesh, Dhaka, Bangladesh
    Competing interests
    No competing interests declared.
  18. Ruchira Tabassum Naved

    Health System and Population Studies Division, International Centre for Diarrhoeal Disease Research, Bangladesh, Dhaka, Bangladesh
    Competing interests
    No competing interests declared.
  19. Md. Mahfuz Al Mamun

    Health System and Population Studies Division, International Centre for Diarrhoeal Disease Research, Bangladesh, Dhaka, Bangladesh
    Competing interests
    No competing interests declared.
  20. Kausar Parvin

    Health System and Population Studies Division, International Centre for Diarrhoeal Disease Research, Bangladesh, Dhaka, Bangladesh
    Competing interests
    No competing interests declared.
  21. Firdaus S Dhabhar

    Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center, Miller School of Medicine, University of Miami, Miami, United States
    Competing interests
    No competing interests declared.
  22. Patricia Kariger

    Division of Community Health Sciences, University of California, Berkeley, Berkeley, United States
    Competing interests
    No competing interests declared.
  23. Lia C H Fernald

    School of Public Health, University of California, Berkeley, Berkeley, United States
    Competing interests
    No competing interests declared.
  24. Stephen P Luby

    Stanford University, Stanford, United States
    Competing interests
    No competing interests declared.
  25. John M Colford Jr.

    School of Public Health, University of California, Berkeley, Berkeley, United States
    Competing interests
    No competing interests declared.

Funding

Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (OPPGD759)

  • John M Colford Jr.

National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (K01AI136885)

  • Audrie Lin

The funders had no role in study design, data collection and interpretation, or the decision to submit the work for publication.

Ethics

Human subjects: Clinical trial registration: The trial was registered at ClinicalTrials.gov (NCT01590095).Human subjects: Primary caregivers of all children provided written informed consent. The study protocols were approved by human subjects committees at icddr,b (PR-11063 and PR-14108), the University of California, Berkeley (2011-09-3652 and 2014-07-6561) and Stanford University (25863 and 35583).

Reviewing Editor

  1. Eduardo Franco, McGill University, Canada

Publication history

  1. Received: June 30, 2020
  2. Accepted: September 4, 2021
  3. Accepted Manuscript published: September 8, 2021 (version 1)

Copyright

© 2021, Lin et al.

This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License permitting unrestricted use and redistribution provided that the original author and source are credited.

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