Translatability of mouse muscle-aging for humans: the role of sex

Jelle C.B.C. de Jong*, Martien P.M. Caspers, Nicole Worms, Nanda Keijzer, Robert Kleemann, Aswin L. Menke, Arie G. Nieuwenhuizen, Jaap Keijer, Lars Verschuren, Anita M. van den Hoek

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Muscle-aging drives sarcopenia and is a major public health issue. Mice are frequently used as a model for human muscle-aging, however, research investigating their translational value is limited. In addition, mechanisms underlying muscle-aging may have sex-specific features in humans, but it is not yet assessed whether these are recapitulated in mice. Here, we studied the effects of aging on a functional, histological and transcriptional level at multiple timepoints in male and female mice (4, 17, 21 and 25 months), with particular emphasis on sex-differences. The effects of natural aging on the transcriptome of quadriceps muscle were compared to humans on pathway level. Significant loss of muscle mass occurred late, at 25 months, in both male (-17%, quadriceps) and female mice (-10%, quadriceps) compared to young control mice. Concomitantly, we found in female, but not male mice, a slower movement speed in the aged groups compared to the young mice (P < 0.001). Consistently, weighted gene co-expression network analysis revealed a stronger association between the aging-related reduction of movement and aging-related changes in muscle transcriptome of female compared to male mice (P < 0.001). In male, but not female mice, major distinctive aging-related changes occurred in the last age group (25 months), which highlights the necessity for careful selection of age using mice as a muscle-aging model. Furthermore, contrasting to humans, more aging-related changes were found in the muscle transcriptome of male mice compared to female mice (4090 vs. 2285 differentially expressed genes at 25 months, respectively). Subsequently, male mice recapitulated more muscle-aging related pathways characteristic for both male and female humans. In conclusion, our data show that sex has a critical effect on the mouse muscle-aging trajectory, although these do not necessarily reflect sex differences observed in the human muscle-aging trajectory.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3341-3360
Issue number3
Early online date24 Jan 2024
Publication statusPublished - 2024


  • Frailty
  • Gender
  • Muscle atrophy
  • Physical activity
  • Sarcopenia


Dive into the research topics of 'Translatability of mouse muscle-aging for humans: the role of sex'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this