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Ageing Res Rev. 2013 Jan;12(1):8-21. doi: 10.1016/j.arr.2012.03.010. Epub 2012 Apr 17.

The mouse as a model organism in aging research: usefulness, pitfalls and possibilities.

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Department for Molecular Biomedical Research, VIB, Ghent, Belgium.


The mouse has become the favorite mammalian model. Among the many reasons for this privileged position of mice is their genetic proximity to humans, the possibilities of genetically manipulating their genomes and the availability of many tools, mutants and inbred strains. Also in the field of aging, mice have become very robust and reliable research tools. Since laboratory mice have a life expectancy of only a few years, genetic approaches and other strategies for intervening in aging can be tested by examining their effects on life span and aging parameters during the relatively short period of, for example, a PhD project. Moreover, experiments on mice with an extended life span as well as on mice demonstrating signs of (segmental) premature aging, together with genetic mapping strategies, have provided novel insights into the fundamental processes that drive aging. Finally, the results of studies on caloric restriction and pharmacological anti-aging treatments in mice have a high degree of relevance to humans. In this paper, we review a number of recent genetic mapping studies that have yielded novel insights into the aging process. We discuss the value of the mouse as a model for testing interventions in aging, such as caloric restriction, and we critically discuss mouse strains with an extended or a shortened life span as models of aging.

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