Leukocyte Telomere Length Correlates with Extended Female Fertility

Jennia Michaeli*, Riham Smoom, Noa Serruya, Hosniyah El Ayoubi, Keren Rotshenker-Olshinka, Naama Srebnik, Ofir Michaeli, Talia Eldar-Geva, Yehuda Tzfati*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


Current social trends of delayed reproduction to the fourth and fifth decade of life call for a better understanding of reproductive aging. Demographic studies correlated late reproduction with general health and longevity. Telomeres, the protective ends of eukaryotic chromosomes, were implicated in various aging-associated pathologies and longevity. To examine whether telomeres are also associated with reproductive aging, we measured by Southern analysis the terminal restriction fragments (TRF) in leukocytes of women delivering a healthy infant following a spontaneous pregnancy at 43–48 years of age. We compared them to age-matched previously fertile women who failed to conceive above age 41. The average TRF length in the extended fertility group (9350 bp) was significantly longer than in the normal fertility group (8850 bp; p-value = 0.03). Strikingly, excluding women with nine or more children increased the difference between the groups to over 1000 bp (9920 and 8880 bp; p-value = 0.0009). Nevertheless, we observed no apparent effects of pregnancy, delivery, or parity on telomere length. We propose that longer leukocyte telomere length reflects higher oocyte quality, which can compensate for other limiting physiological and behavioral factors and enable successful reproduction. Leukocyte telomere length should be further explored as a novel biomarker of oocyte quality for assessing reproductive potential and integrating family planning with demanding women’s careers.

Original languageAmerican English
Article number513
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1 Feb 2022

Bibliographical note

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© 2022 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland.


  • Female fertility
  • Longevity
  • Reproductive aging
  • Telomeres


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