Mice as a mammalian model for research on the genetics of aging

ILAR J. 2011;52(1):4-15. doi: 10.1093/ilar.52.1.4.


Mice are an ideal mammalian model for studying the genetics of aging: considerable resources are available, the generation time is short, and the environment can be easily controlled, an important consideration when performing mapping studies to identify genes that influence lifespan and age-related diseases. In this review we highlight some salient contributions of the mouse in aging research: lifespan intervention studies in the Interventions Testing Program of the National Institute on Aging; identification of the genetic underpinnings of the effects of calorie restriction on lifespan; the Aging Phenome Project at the Jackson Laboratory, which has submitted multiple large, freely available phenotyping datasets to the Mouse Phenome Database; insights from spontaneous and engineered mouse mutants; and complex traits analyses identifying quantitative trait loci that affect lifespan. We also show that genomewide association peaks for lifespan in humans and lifespan quantitative loci for mice map to homologous locations in the genome. Thus, the vast bioinformatic and genetic resources of the mouse can be used to screen candidate genes identified in both mouse and human mapping studies, followed by functional testing, often not possible in humans, to determine their influence on aging.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Aging / genetics*
  • Animals
  • Caloric Restriction
  • Mammals / genetics*
  • Mice
  • Quantitative Trait Loci / genetics