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Animal Models of Successful Aging Platform

Infrastructure Joint Co-ordinators: Guylaine Ferland and Pierrette Gaudreau

The Quebec Network for Research on Aging maintains colonies of aging rats as an infrastructure for research purposes. Researchers can use these rat colonies to perform fundamental research on theories of aging and open up new avenues for understanding the mechanisms of successful aging.

The Joint Co-ordinators of this infrastructure: a) establish, monitor, and maintain the rat colonies; b) work with researchers to develop protocols for conducting studies with these colonies; and c) set up the logistics needed to conduct experiments with these colonies and to take, store, and archive tissue and serum samples from them at sacrifice. Researchers who use this infrastructure are kept informed of changes in the rat colonies by e-mail.

Aging Rat Model


Age of Sacrifice

Probable Dates of Sacrifice

Sprague Dawley, male, fed ad-libitum (n=32)   18-19 months

June 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013

Sprague Dawleymale40% calorie restriction from age 8 months (n=32)

  18-19 months June 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013

Lou/C/Jall, male, fed ad-libitum


various ages

June 2009

Lou/C/Jall, female, fed ad-libitum


various ages

June 2009

To make inquiries or to apply to use this infrastructure for a research project::

Work on this infrastructure began in the summer of 2001, when the Joint Co-ordinators defined the essential preconditions for establishing colonies of male Sprague Dawley (SD) rats that would be subjected to long-term moderate caloric restriction. In the model adopted, all the rats were fed ad libitum until the age of 8 months. They were then divided into two groups, one of which continued to be fed ad libitum, while the other was limited to 60% of a daily ration based on the past ad libitum consumption of both groups. This regime was continued until both groups were sacrificed, at age 18 to 20 months.

To optimize operations and promote collaborative research, the Joint Co-ordinators also developed a set of rules to govern the use of this biological material by researchers who are members of the Quebec Network for Research on Aging as well as by non-member researchers from Quebec, other Canadian provinces, and other countries. It was agreed that in order to encourage multidisciplinary studies, priority would be given to researchers who belong to the Network.

It was also in Summer 2001 that the Joint Co-ordinators started up the first colony of male Sprague-Dawley (SD) rats. As of February/March 2003, this colony consisted of 75 live animals aged 20 months. The rats had been divided into two groups and fed according to the model described above, with casein or soy as their protein source. The rats were sacrificed from February 26, 2003 through March 19, 2003. The data obtained from this colony are now being used in studies by several researchers from the University of Montreal, McGill University, and the University of Sherbrooke who are members of the Network, along with their students and some non-members who are doing research on nutrition and aging.

The Infrastructure Joint Co-ordinators established a second colony of male SD rats in February 2004. They were fed casein as a protein source, and they too were divided into two groups and fed in accordance with the model described above. They were sacrificed in July 2005.

The LOU rat is another model of great interest to the Network, both because it has a greater lifespan (34 to 39 months) than other commonly used strains and because these rats do not increase their adipose tissue mass as they age. In 2002, working with Dr. Josette Alliot of Université Clermont-Ferrand in France, the Infrastructure Joint Co-ordinators therefore developed a protocol for importing LOU/c/jall rats into Canada and then established a colony of this strain of rats in Montreal. The expansion of this colony continues, and researchers will be notified once various age groups of rats become available. A contract to ensure the ethical use of these LOU rats by researchers has been approved by Dr. Alliott, the University of Montreal Office of Industrial Liaison, and the Network’s Director.

In 2004, the Infrastructure’s Joint Co-ordinators were successful co-applicants for a multi-institutional grant from the Canada Foundation for Innovation for a study entitled “Platform of genetically-designed rats for the study of common human diseases” (Principal Investigator: Dr Pavel Hamet). This advanced platform will be used, among other purposes, to study the gene/environment interactions in our models of aging.