A clinical frailty index in aging mice: comparisons with frailty index data in humans

Jocelyne C Whitehead, Barbara A Hildebrand, Michael Sun, Michael R Rockwood, Robert A Rose, Kenneth Rockwood, Susan E Howlett

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    We previously quantified frailty in aged mice with frailty index (FI) that used specialized equipment to measure health parameters. Here we developed a simplified, noninvasive method to quantify frailty through clinical assessment of C57BL/6J mice (5-28 months) and compared the relationship between FI scores and age in mice and humans. FIs calculated with the original performance-based eight-item FI increased from 0.06 ± 0.01 at 5 months to 0.36 ± 0.06 at 19 months and 0.38 ± 0.04 at 28 months (n = 14). By contrast, the increase was graded with a 31-item clinical FI (0.02 ± 0.005 at 5 months; 0.12 ± 0.008 at 19 months; 0.33 ± 0.02 at 28 months; n = 14). FI scores calculated from 70 self-report items from the first wave of the Survey of Health, Ageing and Retirement in Europe were plotted as function of age (n = 30,025 people). The exponential relationship between FI scores and age (normalized to 90% mortality) was similar in mice and humans for the clinical FI but not the eight-item FI. This noninvasive FI based on clinical measures can be used in longitudinal studies to quantify frailty in mice. Unlike the performance-based eight-item mouse FI, the clinical FI exhibits key features of the FI established for use in humans.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)621-632
    Number of pages12
    JournalThe Journals of Gerontology Series A: Biological Sciences and Medical Sciences
    Issue number6
    Early online date19 Sept 2013
    Publication statusPublished - 2014


    • Deficit accumulation
    • Deficit index
    • Frailty index
    • Senescence.


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