The telomere length of chromosomes appears to be related to the age a man reproduces. In fact, contrary to other cells, sperm of older men have longer telomeres. This means that the older the parent is the longer the life expectancy of his children will be; this phenomenon is cumulative over various generations. This discovery will clarify some evolutionary mechanisms of aging.
If your grandfather was already elderly when he conceived your father one can hope for a long life. This unique discovery is the result of research conducted by biologists at Northwestern University that was reported in an article published in the “Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.” The explanation for this phenomenon, researchers said, is in the telomeres.
In aging, telomeres shorten, but there are some cells that are an exception this rule: sperm cells. Older males have spermatozoa with longer telomeres. The phenomenon is explained by the fact that the activity of telomerase – an enzyme that tries to slow the progressive demolition of telomeres by stretching – is very high in the testicles. Given that children inherit half of their chromosomes from spermatozoa, the children of older fathers tend to have longer telomeres. On the contrary, as the pool of ova in the uterus is established once and for all, the telomeres present in the ova are not affected age of the mother.
“If your father and grandfather were able to live and reproduce at a later age, this might predict that you yourself live in an environment that is somewhat similar – an environment with less accidental deaths or in which men are only able to fina a partner a later ages, said Dan T. A. Eisenberg, lead author of the article. “In such an environment, investing more in a body capable of reaching an older age may be, from an evolutionary perspective, an adaptation strategy. “In such an environment, investing more in a body capable of reaching these late ages could be an adaptive strategy from an evolutionary perspective.
“When we think of adaptation, we tend to think of it happening over hundreds of generations,” Eisenberg said. “This study illustrates a means by which much more rapid adaptive genetic changes might occur over just a few generations.”