Evaluating Health Span in Preclinical Models of Aging and Disease: Guidelines, Challenges, and Opportunities for Geroscience

Derek M. Huffman, Jamie N. Justice, Michael B. Stout, James L. Kirkland, Nir Barzilai, Steven N. Austad

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

24 Scopus citations


Life extension is no longer considered sufficient evidence of delayed aging in research animals. It must also be demonstrated that a broad swathe of health indicators have been extended. During a retreat of the Geroscience Network, a consortium of basic and clinical aging researchers, potential measures of mouse health were considered for their potential as easily standardized, highly informative metrics. Major health domains considered were neuromuscular, cognitive, cardiovascular, metabolic, and inflammatory functions as well as body composition and energetics and a multitude of assays interrogating these domains. A particularly sensitive metric of health is the ability to respond to, and recover, from stress. Therefore, the Network also considered stresses of human relevance that could be implemented in mouse models to assess frailty and resilience. Mouse models already exist for responses to forced immobility, cancer chemotherapy, infectious diseases, dietary challenges, and surgical stress, and it was felt that these could be employed to determine whether putative senescence-retarding interventions increased and extended organismal robustness. The Network discussed challenges in modeling age-related human chronic diseases and concluded that more attention needs to be paid to developing disease models with later age of onset, models of co- and multimorbidity, diversifying the strains and sexes commonly used in aging research, and considering additional species.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1395-1406
Number of pages12
JournalJournals of Gerontology - Series A Biological Sciences and Medical Sciences
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 1 2016


  • Health span
  • aging
  • animal models
  • longevity
  • preclinical studies

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Aging
  • Geriatrics and Gerontology


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