Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository


Master of Science




Dr. Geoffrey Pickering


Leukocyte telomere length (TL) shortens with age and is associated with age-related pathologies. However, inherited and acquired variation in telomere length in individuals complicates clinical interpretations of TL as a biomarker of aging and age-related pathologies. Therefore, it is critical to identify a post-mitotic tissue as a surrogate marker of TL at birth. In my thesis project, I used quantitative PCR to trace TL dynamics of a variety of tissue types of inbred mice during 1st year of life. I found that TL of smooth muscle of aortic media did not shorten with age and represents birth TL. Notably, birth TL effectively offset genetic variation of TL in a genetically diverse mouse population. In addition, I further revealed that impaired collagen turnover in mice, which leads to premature aging symptoms, accelerates TL shortening. In summary, I identified that aortic media provides a powerful internal reference for birth TL with potentials to improve the accuracy of evaluating telomere shortening in individuals.

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Biochemistry Commons