A cross-sectional study of male and female C57BL/6Nia mice suggests lifespan and healthspan are not necessarily correlated

Aging (Albany NY). 2016 Oct 2;8(10):2370-2391. doi: 10.18632/aging.101059.


Lifespan provides a discrete metric that is intuitively appealing and the assumption has been that healthspan is extended concomitant with lifespan. Medicine has been more successful at extending life than preserving health during aging. Interventions that extend lifespan in model organisms do not always result in a corresponding increase in healthspan, suggesting that lifespan and healthspan may be uncoupled. To understand how interventions that extend life affect healthspan, we need measures that distinguish between young and old animals. Here we measured age-related changes in healthspan in male and female C57BL/6JNia mice assessed at 4 distinct ages (4 months, 20 months, 28 months and 32 months). Correlations between health parameters and age varied. Some parameters show consistent patterns with age across studies and in both sexes, others changed in one sex only and others showed no significant differences in mice of different ages. Few correlations existed among health assays, suggesting that physiological function in domains we assessed change independently in aging mice. With one exception, health parameters were not significantly associated with an increased probability of premature death. Our results show the need for more robust measures of murine health and suggest a potential disconnect between health and lifespan in mice.

Keywords: aging; healthspan; lifespan; longevity; physiological function; sex differences.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Aging / physiology*
  • Animals
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Health Status
  • Life Expectancy
  • Longevity / physiology*
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL