Men who become fathers later in life may pass a mark of longevity down to their paternal grandchildren.
As men age, chromosomes in their sperm are tipped with longer telomeres — structures that protect valuable genetic information from deterioration during cell division and other processes. Longer telomeres have been associated with long life, whereas short telomeres have been linked to aging and disease.
Scientists have known for a while that telomeres increase in length for every year a man ages and that children of older dads inherit longer telomeres. But the new study by researchers at Northwestern University in Evanston, Ill., extends that inheritance to grandchildren. The new finding, published online June 11 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, could point to a mechanism by which men can influence the health of their offspring for generations.
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