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Exp Gerontol. 2006 Oct;41(10):1001-6. Epub 2006 Aug 14.

Identifying factors that promote functional aging in Caenorhabditis elegans.

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Laboratory of Neurosciences, Intramural Research Program, National Institute on Aging, NIH, Baltimore, MD 21224, USA.


A major feature of aging is a reduction in muscle strength from sarcopenia, the loss of muscle mass. Sarcopenia impairs physical ability, reduces quality of life and increases the risk of fall and injury. Since aging is a process of stochastic decline, there may be many factors that impinge on the progression of sarcopenia. Possible factors that may promote muscle decline are contraction-related injury and oxidative stress. However, relatively little is understood about the cellular pathways affecting muscle aging, in part because lifespan studies are difficult to conduct in species with large muscles, such as rodents and primates. For this reason, shorter-lived invertebrate models of aging may be more useful for unraveling causes of sarcopenia and functional declines during aging. Recent studies have examined both physiological and genetic factors that affect aging-related declines in Caenorhabditis elegans nematodes. In C. elegans, aging leads to significant functional declines that correlate with muscle deterioration, similar to those documented for longer-lived vertebrates. This article will examine the current research into aging-related functional declines in this species, focusing on recent studies of locomotory and feeding decline during aging in the nematode, C. elegans.

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