Short Telomeres are Sufficient to Cause the Degenerative Defects Associated with Aging

Mary Armanios, Jonathan K. Alder, Erin M. Parry, Baktiar Karim, Margaret A. Strong, Carol W. Greider

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

158 Scopus citations


Telomerase function is critical for telomere maintenance. Mutations in telomerase components lead to telomere shortening and progressive bone marrow failure in the premature aging syndrome dyskeratosis congenita. Short telomeres are also acquired with aging, yet the role that they play in mediating age-related disease is not fully known. We generated wild-type mice that have short telomeres. In these mice, we identified hematopoietic and immune defects that resembled those present in dyskeratosis congenita patients. When mice with short telomeres were interbred, telomere length was only incrementally restored, and even several generations later, wild-type mice with short telomeres still displayed degenerative defects. Our findings implicate telomere length as a unique heritable trait that, when short, is sufficient to mediate the degenerative defects of aging, even when telomerase is wild-type.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)823-832
Number of pages10
JournalAmerican journal of human genetics
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 11 2009

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Genetics
  • Genetics(clinical)


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