Voluntary wheel running is a non-invasive test to measure physical performance in aging mice | Keely | Aging Pathobiology and Therapeutics

Voluntary wheel running is a non-invasive test to measure physical performance in aging mice

Addison Keely, Christina Pettan-Brewer, Warren Ladiges


Physical and cognitive abilities are important elements of healthy aging with many complexities for which tests have been established to quantitatively measure age-related declines. Mouse studies can effectively model human phenotypic traits and parameters that accompany aging by addressing questions that are not realistic in human clinical trials. The shortened timeline of aging mouse models provides researchers to investigate intervention approaches in a shorter time period. Over the years, a number of tests have been developed to measure physical and cognitive abilities in mice that have a wide range of stress and invasiveness. Voluntary wheel running (VWR) is a non-invasive representation of natural behavior in a mouse, as it measures the voluntary limit of physical capacity in a non-stressful scenario. Archived data from a mouse healthspan study were used to determine if there was an independent relationship between VWR and grip strength force, maze learning and memory retention, and physical coordination on a rotating rod, in male mice from age groups of 4, 12, 20, and 28 months. Wheel running distance over three days was not associated with performance data from any of the three physical tests, suggesting that VWR can be used independently as a stand alone or in concert with other performance tests to help determine the anti-aging effects of a drug or other intervention approaches.

Keywords: Voluntary wheel running, aging, non-invasive performance test, resilience to aging, aging mouse model, self-motivated exercise

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