Shorter telomere length of white blood cells is associated with higher rates of aneuploidy among infertile women undergoing in vitro fertilization

In a population of infertile women undergoing in vitro fertilization, shorter white blood cell telomere length was associated with higher rates of embryonic aneuploidy.

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VOLUME 115, ISSUE 4, P957-965


Brent M. Hanson, M.D., Xin Tao, Ph.D., Yiping Zhan, Ph.D., Julia G. Kim, M.D., M.P.H., Amber M. Klimczak, M.D., Nola S. Herlihy, M.D., Richard T. Scott Jr., M.D., H.C.L.D., Emre Seli, M.D.



To evaluate whether the telomere length of white blood cells (WBC) and cumulus cells (CC) in an infertile population is associated with ovarian and embryonic performance.


Prospective cohort study.


Academic-affiliated private practice.


A total of 175 infertile women undergoing in vitro fertilization (IVF) at a single center between July 2017 and December 2018.


On the day of oocyte retrieval, genomic DNA was isolated from WBC and CC samples. Telomere length assessment was performed for both tissue types using quantitative real-time polymerase chain reaction. Telomere lengths were normalized using an AluYa5 sequence as an endogenous control, and linear regressions were applied.

Main Outcome Measures

This study assessed the relationship between relative telomere length of WBC and CC samples and measures of ovarian and embryonic performance. Specifically, patient age, antimüllerian hormone (AMH) level, peak estradiol (E2) level, number of oocytes retrieved, number of mature (MII) oocytes retrieved, blastulation rate, and aneuploidy rate were assessed.


There was a statistically significant relationship between WBC relative telomere length and patient age as well as rates of embryonic aneuploidy, with shorter WBC relative telomere length associated with increasing patient age (P<.01) and higher rates of aneuploidy (P=.01). No statistically significant relationships were observed between WBC relative telomere length and the other outcome measures. No significant associations were noted between CC relative telomere length and any outcomes assessed in this study.


The relationship between WBC relative telomere length and aneuploidy warrants further investigation, particularly because significant overlap exists between increasing maternal age and rates of embryonic aneuploidy.

Fertility and Sterility

Editorial Office, American Society for Reproductive Medicine

Fertility and Sterility® is an international journal for obstetricians, gynecologists, reproductive endocrinologists, urologists, basic scientists and others who treat and investigate problems of infertility and human reproductive disorders.