Birds as long-lived animal models for the study of aging

Exp Gerontol. 2003 Nov-Dec;38(11-12):1365-75. doi: 10.1016/j.exger.2003.10.018.


Despite their high lifetime energy expenditures, most birds can be characterized as long-lived homeotherms with moderately slow aging. A growing body of research confirms the prediction that birds have special adaptations for preventing aging-related oxidative and glycoxidative damage. Nonetheless, biogerontologists have been slow to develop avian laboratory models. A number of domestic poultry and cage bird species represent either established or very promising animal models for studies of basic aging processes and their prevention, including degenerative neurobiological, behavioral and reproductive processes. Several kinds of birds have also been used in studies of cellular resistance to oxidative stressors in vitro. Results of preliminary studies on chickens and quail suggest that caloric restriction may extend the reproductive life span of hens, but its long-term effects on life span remain unstudied. Birds' innate anti-aging mechanisms may actually make them more suitable in some respects as models of longevity than short-lived laboratory rodents, and bird studies may ultimately reveal routes for therapeutic intervention in diseases of human aging and infertility.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Aging / physiology*
  • Animals
  • Biological Evolution
  • Birds / physiology*
  • Caloric Restriction
  • Energy Metabolism / physiology
  • Longevity / physiology
  • Models, Animal*
  • Reproduction / physiology