Changes in behaviors of male C57BL/6J mice across adult life span and effects of dietary restriction
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Behavioral analysis is a high-end read-out of aging impact on an organism, and here, we have analyzed behaviors in 4-, 22-, and 28-month-old male C57BL/6J with a broad range of tests. For comparison, a group of 28-month-old males maintained on dietary restriction (DR) was included. The most conspicuous alteration was the decline in exploration activity with advancing age. Aging also affected other behaviors such as motor skill acquisition and grip strength, in contrast to latency to thermal stimuli and visual placement which were unchanged. Object recognition tests revealed intact working memory at 28 months while memory recollection was impaired already at 22 months. Comparison with female C57BL/6J (Fahlström et al., Neurobiol Aging 32:1868–1880, 2011) revealed that alterations in aged males and females are similar and that several of the behavioral indices correlate with age in both sexes. Moreover, we examined if behavioral indices in 22-month-old males could predict remaining life span as suggested in the study by Ingram and Reynolds (Exp Aging Res 12(3):155–162, 1986) and found that exploratory activity and motor skills accounted for up to 65% of the variance. Consistent with that a high level of exploratory activity and preserved motor capacity indicated a long post-test survival, 28-month-old males maintained on DR were more successful in such tests than ad libitum fed age-matched males. In summary, aged C57BL/6J males are marked by a reduced exploratory activity, an alteration that DR impedes. In light of recently published data, we discuss if a diminishing drive to explore may associate with aging-related impairment of central aminergic pathways.