Short-term telomere dynamics is associated with glucocorticoid levels in wild populations of roe deer

Jean-François Lemaître, Jeffrey Carbillet, Benjamin Rey, Rupert Palme, Hannah Froy, Rachael V. Wilbourn, Sarah L. Underwood, Louise Cheynel, Jean-Michel Gaillard, A.J. Mark Hewison, Hélène Verheyden, François Débias, Jeanne Duhayer, Corinne Régis, Sylvia Pardonnet, Maryline Pellerin, Daniel H. Nussey, Emmanuelle Gilot-Fromont

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


While evidence that telomere length is associated with health and mortality in humans and birds is accumulating, a large body of research is currently seeking to identify factors that modulate telomere dynamics. We tested the hypothesis that high levels of glucocorticoids in individuals under environmental stress should accelerate telomere shortening in two wild populations of roe deer (Capreolus capreolus) living in different ecological contexts. From two consecutive annual sampling sessions, we found that individuals with faster rates of telomere shortening had higher concentrations of fecal glucocorticoid metabolites, suggesting a functional link between glucocorticoid levels and telomere attrition rate. This relationship was consistent for both sexes and populations. This finding paves the way for further studies of the fitness consequences of exposure to environmental stressors in wild vertebrates.
Original languageEnglish
Article number110836
Number of pages27
JournalComparative Biochemistry and Physiology - Part A: Molecular & Integrative Physiology
Early online date2 Nov 2020
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2021


  • aging
  • capreolus capreolus
  • fecal glucocorticoid metabolites
  • life history
  • senescence
  • stress


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