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Ann N Y Acad Sci. 2006 May;1067:66-82.

Aging in mouse and human systems: a comparative study.

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Department of Organismic and Evolutionary Biology, Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts 02138, USA.


This article discusses the significance of mouse models as a basis for elucidating the aging process in humans. We identify certain parallels between mouse and human systems and review the theoretical and empirical support for the claim that the large divergence in the rate of aging between the two species resides in differences in the stability of their metabolic networks. We will show that these differences in metabolic stability have their origin in the different ecological constraints the species experience during their evolutionary history. We exploit these ideas to compare the effect of caloric restriction on murine and human systems. The studies predict that the large increases in mean life span and maximum life-span potential observed in laboratory rodents subject to caloric restriction will not obtain in human populations. We predict that, in view of the different metabolic stability of the two systems, caloric restriction will have no effect on the maximum life-span potential of humans, and a relatively minor effect on the mean life span of nonobese populations. This article thus points to certain intrinsic limitations in the use of mouse models in elucidating the aging process in humans. We furthermore contend the view that these limitations can be mitigated by considering the metabolic stability of the two species.

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