Age-Related Changes in Locomotor Performance Reveal a Similar Pattern for Caenorhabditis Elegans, Mus Domesticus, Canis Familiaris, Equus Caballus, and Homo Sapiens

J Gerontol A Biol Sci Med Sci. 2017 Apr 1;72(4):455-463. doi: 10.1093/gerona/glw136.


Locomotion is one of the major physiological functions for most animals. Previous studies have described aging mechanisms linked to locomotor performance among different species. However, the precise dynamics of these age-related changes, and their interactions with development and senescence, are largely unknown. Here, we use the same conceptual framework to describe locomotor performances in Caenorhabditis elegans, Mus domesticus, Canis familiaris, Equus caballus, and Homo sapiens. We show that locomotion is a consistent biomarker of age-related changes, with an asymmetrical pattern throughout life, regardless of the type of effort or its duration. However, there is variation (i) among species for the same mode of locomotion, (ii) within species for different modes of locomotion, and (iii) among individuals of the same species for the same mode of locomotion. Age-related patterns are modulated by genetic (such as selective breeding) as well as environmental conditions (such as temperature). However, in all cases, the intersection of the rising developmental phase and the declining senescent phase reveals neither a sharp transition nor a plateau, but a smooth transition, emphasizing a crucial moment: the age at peak performance. This transition may define a specific target for future investigations on the dynamics of such biological interactions.

Keywords: Aging; Comparative biology; Epidemiology; Exercise physiology; Senescence.

MeSH terms

  • Age Factors
  • Aging / physiology*
  • Animals
  • Caenorhabditis elegans / physiology*
  • Dogs / physiology*
  • Horses / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Locomotion / physiology*
  • Mice / physiology*
  • Time Factors