Exercise-training in young Drosophila melanogaster reduces age-related decline in mobility and cardiac performance

PLoS One. 2009 Jun 11;4(6):e5886. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0005886.


Declining mobility is a major concern, as well as a major source of health care costs, among the elderly population. Lack of mobility is a primary cause of entry into managed care facilities, and a contributing factor to the frequency of damaging falls. Exercise-based therapies have shown great promise in sustaining mobility in elderly patients, as well as in rodent models. However, the genetic basis of the changing physiological responses to exercise during aging is not well understood. Here, we describe the first exercise-training paradigm in an invertebrate genetic model system. Flies are exercised by a mechanized platform, known as the Power Tower, that rapidly, repeatedly, induces their innate instinct for negative geotaxis. When young flies are subjected to a carefully controlled, ramped paradigm of exercise-training, they display significant reduction in age-related decline in mobility and cardiac performance. Fly lines with improved mitochondrial efficiency display some of the phenotypes observed in wild-type exercised flies. The exercise response in flies is influenced by the amount of protein and lipid, but not carbohydrate, in the diet. The development of an exercise-training model in Drosophila melanogaster opens the way to direct testing of single-gene based genetic therapies for improved mobility in aged animals, as well as unbiased genetic screens for loci involved in the changing response to exercise during aging.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aconitate Hydratase / metabolism
  • Animal Feed
  • Animals
  • Behavior, Animal
  • Drosophila melanogaster / metabolism*
  • Exercise Tolerance / genetics
  • Heart / physiology*
  • Mitochondria / physiology
  • Models, Animal
  • Models, Biological
  • Movement*
  • Physical Conditioning, Animal*
  • Sucrose / pharmacology
  • Time Factors


  • Sucrose
  • Aconitate Hydratase