Battery of behavioral tests in mice that models age-associated changes in human motor function

Age (Dordr). 2014 Apr;36(2):583-92. doi: 10.1007/s11357-013-9589-9.


Motor function in humans can be characterized with tests of locomotion, strength, balance, and endurance. The aim of our project was to establish an analogous test battery to assess motor function in mice. Male C57BL/6 mice were studied at 3 (n = 87), 20 (n = 48) and 26 (n = 43) months of age. Tests assessed locomotion, strength, balance/coordination, and endurance capacity in mice. Motor function was reduced in the older groups of mice for the locomotion, strength, and endurance subdomains (p < 0.001). As indicated with a summary score, motor function declined by 7.4 % from 3 to 20 months and by 13.5 % from 20 to 26 months. Based on comparison with previously published data in humans, the magnitude and relative time course of changes were similar in mice and humans in each subdomain except balance/coordination. Power calculations confirmed that the age-associated differences depicted by several of the individual tests and domain summary scores would be sufficient to assess the efficacy of interventions aimed at prevention or treatment of motor dysfunction with aging. The current study describes a mouse model that characterizes age-associated changes in clinically relevant domains of motor function and indicates that the preclinical model can be used to test strategies to attenuate age-associated declines in motor function.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Aging*
  • Animals
  • Behavior, Animal*
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Hindlimb / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Locomotion / physiology*
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Mobility Limitation
  • Muscle Strength
  • Physical Exertion / physiology*
  • Postural Balance / physiology*
  • Recovery of Function