Telomeres and replicative cellular aging of the human placenta and chorioamniotic membranes

Tsung Po Lai, Mark Simpson, Krunal Patel, Simon Verhulst, Jungsik Noh, Natalie Roche, Debra Heller, George Guirguis, Jerry W. Shay, Utz Herbig, Abraham Aviv

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


Recent hypotheses propose that the human placenta and chorioamniotic membranes (CAMs) experience telomere length (TL)-mediated senescence. These hypotheses are based on mean TL (mTL) measurements, but replicative senescence is triggered by short and dysfunctional telomeres, not mTL. We measured short telomeres by a vanguard method, the Telomere shortest length assay, and telomere-dysfunction-induced DNA damage foci (TIF) in placentas and CAMs between 18-week gestation and at full-term. Both the placenta and CAMs showed a buildup of short telomeres and TIFs, but not shortening of mTL from 18-weeks to full-term. In the placenta, TIFs correlated with short telomeres but not mTL. CAMs of preterm birth pregnancies with intra-amniotic infection showed shorter mTL and increased proportions of short telomeres. We conclude that the placenta and probably the CAMs undergo TL-mediated replicative aging. Further research is warranted whether TL-mediated replicative aging plays a role in all preterm births.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number5115
JournalScientific reports
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 2021

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


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