Leukocyte telomere length in the Thoroughbred racehorse

Denham, Josh ORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0001-5804-4960 and Denham, Michele M. (2018) Leukocyte telomere length in the Thoroughbred racehorse. Animal Genetics, 49 (5). pp. 452-456. ISSN 0268-9146


Thoroughbred racehorses possess superior cardiorespiratory fitness levels and are at the pinnacle of athletic performance compared to other breeds of horses. Although equine athletes have undergone years of artificial selection for racing performance, musculoskeletal injuries and illnesses are common and concerns relating to animal welfare have been proposed. Leukocyte telomere length is indicative of biological age, and accelerated telomere shortening occurs with excess physical and psychological stress. This study was designed to explore the association between leukocyte telomere length, biological factors (age, sex and coat colour), training status, winnings and race history parameters. Blood was collected from 146 Thoroughbred racehorses from around Geelong, Victoria, Australia. DNA was extracted from leukocytes; telomere length was measured using qPCR and analysed in context with traits obtained from the Racing Australia website. Age was inversely correlated with telomere length (r = −0.194, P = 0.019). The oldest horses (≥11 years) in the highest age quartile possessed shorter telomeres compared to younger horses in the first, second and third quartiles (≤2, 3–5 and 6–10 years respectively; P < 0.05). No statistically significant associations were observed between telomere length and biological factors, training status, winnings or race history parameters in age-adjusted analyses. The study findings suggest that Thoroughbred horses may undergo age-related telomere shortening similar to other mixed breeds and humans. Despite concerns from some quarters regarding the welfare of racehorses, there was a lack of accelerated biological ageing observed in the present study, as indicated by leukocyte telomere length.

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Item Type: Article (Commonwealth Reporting Category C)
Refereed: Yes
Item Status: Live Archive
Faculty/School / Institute/Centre: No Faculty
Faculty/School / Institute/Centre: No Faculty
Date Deposited: 13 Dec 2021 22:33
Last Modified: 15 Dec 2021 02:57
Uncontrolled Keywords: ageing; biological age; Equus caballus; exercise; telomeres
Fields of Research (2008): 06 Biological Sciences > 0604 Genetics > 060499 Genetics not elsewhere classified
07 Agricultural and Veterinary Sciences > 0707 Veterinary Sciences > 070799 Veterinary Sciences not elsewhere classified
Fields of Research (2020): 31 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 3105 Genetics > 310599 Genetics not elsewhere classified
30 AGRICULTURAL, VETERINARY AND FOOD SCIENCES > 3009 Veterinary sciences > 300999 Veterinary sciences not elsewhere classified
Identification Number or DOI: https://doi.org/10.1111/age.12681
URI: http://eprints.usq.edu.au/id/eprint/43621

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