Article open access publication

Telomere length is reduced in 9- to 16-year-old girls exposed to gestational diabetes in utero

Diabetologia, Springer Nature, ISSN 1432-0428

Volume 61, 4, 2018

DOI:10.1007/s00125-018-4549-7, Dimensions: pub.1100590170, PMID: 29362826,


Hjort, Line * (1) (2) (3)
Burgner, David (4) (5) (6)
Vaag, Allan (3) (9)

* Corresponding author



  1. (1) University of Copenhagen, grid.5254.6, KU
  2. (2) Danish Diabetes Academy, grid.484078.7
  3. (3) Department of Endocrinology (Diabetes and Metabolism), Section 7652, Rigshospitalet, Copenhagen University Hospital, Blegdamsvej 9, DK-2100, Copenhagen, Denmark
  4. (4) Murdoch Children's Research Institute, grid.1058.c
  5. (5) Monash University, grid.1002.3
  6. (6) University of Melbourne, grid.1008.9
  7. (7) Harvard University, grid.38142.3c
  8. (8) State Serum Institute, grid.6203.7
  9. (9) AstraZeneca (Sweden), grid.418151.8


AIMS/HYPOTHESIS: Shortened telomere length is a marker of cell damage and is associated with oxidative stress, chronic inflammation and metabolic disease. We hypothesised that the offspring of women with gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM) with increased risk of cardiovascular and metabolic diseases might exhibit shorter telomere length. METHODS: We investigated telomere length in 439 GDM and 469 control group offspring, aged between 9 and 16 years, recruited from the Danish National Birth Cohort. Relative telomere length was measured in peripheral blood DNA (n = 908) using a quantitative PCR approach. Multivariate regression analysis was used to investigate the association between mothers' GDM status and telomere length in the offspring. RESULTS: Female offspring had longer telomeres than males. Offspring of mothers with GDM had significantly shorter telomere length than control offspring, but this difference was observed only in girls. There was a negative association between telomere length and GDM exposure among the female offspring (14% shorter telomeres, p = 0.003) following adjustment for the age of the offspring. Telomere length in female offspring was negatively associated with fasting insulin levels and HOMA-IR (p = 0.03). Maternal age, smoking, gestational age, birthweight and the offspring's anthropometric characteristics were not associated with telomere length (p ≥ 0.1). CONCLUSIONS/INTERPRETATION: The 9- to 16-year-old girls of mothers with GDM had shorter telomeres than those from the control population. Further studies are needed to understand the extent to which shortened telomere length predicts and/or contributes to the increased risk of disease later in life among the offspring of women with GDM.


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Times Cited: 10

Field Citation Ratio (FCR): 9.74

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