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Age (Dordr). 2012 Oct;34(5):1123-31. Epub 2011 Dec 28.

Aging and physical mobility in group-housed Old World monkeys.

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  • 1Department of Pathology, Section on Comparative Medicine, Wake Forest School of Medicine, Winston-Salem, NC 27157-1040, USA.


While indices of physical mobility such as gait speed are significant predictors of future morbidity/mortality in the elderly, mechanisms of these relationships are not understood. Relevant animal models of aging and physical mobility are needed to study these relationships. The goal of this study was to develop measures of physical mobility including activity levels and gait speed in Old World monkeys which vary with age in adults. Locomotor behaviors of 21 old ([Formula: see text] = 20 yoa) and 24 young ([Formula: see text] = 9 yoa) socially housed adult females of three species were recorded using focal sample and ad libitum behavior observation methods. Self-motivated walking speed was 17% slower in older than younger adults. Likewise, young adults climbed more frequently than older adults. Leaping and jumping were more common, on average, in young adults, but this difference did not reach significance. Overall activity levels did not vary significantly by age, and there were no significant age by species interactions in any of these behaviors. Of all the behaviors evaluated, walking speed measured in a simple and inexpensive manner appeared most sensitive to age and has the added feature of being least affected by differences in housing characteristics. Thus, walking speed may be a useful indicator of decline in physical mobility in nonhuman primate models of aging.

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