A Clinical Frailty Index in Aging Mice: Comparisons With Frailty Index Data in Humans

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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.

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