Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository


Master of Science




Dr. Shiva M. Singh


Telomeres are repetitive nucleotide repeats of TTAGGG sequences located at the two ends of each chromosome. Telomeres protect DNA from degradation and maintain genomic stability. Shorter telomeres are implicated in different diseases and disorders including psychiatric disorders. I measured buccal cell telomere length (TL) in 384 pre-school children (3-4 years), from Southwestern Ontario using monochrome multiplex qPCR method. I assessed the associations between TL and family, child-specific variables. I did not find a significant correlation between TL and maternal depression, chronic family stress, or age and sex of the children. However, I found a significant positive correlation between TL and cortisol levels (AUCI (increase) r=0.186, p=0.000 and AUCG (ground) r=.159, p=0.002). This is a novel study assessing gene-environment interactions between TL and stress related variables in a large sample of very young children. However, further studies will be necessary to establish this relationship.