Early or late-life treatment with acarbose or rapamycin improves physical performance and affects cardiac structure in aging mice

J Gerontol A Biol Sci Med Sci. 2022 Nov 7;glac221. doi: 10.1093/gerona/glac221. Online ahead of print.


Pharmacological treatments can extend lifespan in mice. For optimal translation in humans, treatments should improve health during aging, and demonstrate efficacy when started later in life. Acarbose (ACA) and Rapamycin (RAP) extend lifespan in mice when treatment is started early or later in life. Both drugs can also improve some indices of healthy aging, although there has been little systematic study of whether health benefits accrue differently depending on the age at which treatment is started. Here we compare the effects of early (4 month) versus late (16 month) onset ACA or RAP treatment on physical function and cardiac structure in genetically heterogeneous aged mice. ACA or RAP treatment improve rotarod acceleration and endurance capacity compared to controls, with effects that are largely similar in mice starting treatment from early or late in life. Compared to controls, cardiac hypertrophy is reduced by ACA or RAP in both sexes regardless of age treatment onset. ACA has a greater effect on the cardiac lipidome than RAP, and effects of early life treatment are recapitulated by late life treatment. These results indicate that late life treatment with these drugs provide at least some of the benefits of life long treatment, although some of the benefits occur only in males, which could lead to sex differences in health outcomes later in life.