New Healthspan Assessment Laboratory assesses clinically relevant measures of health and aging

Lab assists translational research in rehabilitative medicine

Mayo Clinic's Healthspan Assessment Laboratory is a newly established translational research facility in the Robert and Arlene Kogod Center on Aging, designed to assess clinically relevant measures of health and aging in laboratory mice to accelerate bench-to-bedside and bedside-to-bench research translation. The lab involves a multidisciplinary team from several centers and departments within Mayo Clinic, including the Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation.

The laboratory includes three dedicated rooms with appropriate temperature, ventilation and light controls. It provides a diverse body of investigators the ability to conduct cross-sectional and longitudinal studies of chronological aging, accelerated aging and age-associated diseases and the impact of interventions, including drugs, genetic alterations, cells, exercise, diet and devices, on health span.

State-of-the-art equipment includes:

  • An EchoMRI-100 body composition analyzer (Echo Medical Systems, Houston, Texas) for high-throughput (90 s/scan), noninvasive (no anesthesia required) determination of lean mass, fat mass, and free and total body water
  • A 16-chamber Comprehensive Laboratory Animal Monitoring System (CLAMS; Columbus Instruments, Columbus, Ohio) for measurement of respiratory exchange ratio and energy expenditure and simultaneous quantification of habitual physical activity and food intake
  • A six-lane treadmill for assessing exercise capacity and conducting exercise training interventions (Columbus Instruments)
  • A computer-integrated grip meter for quantification of muscle strength (Columbus Instruments)
  • Protocols and instrumentation for measurement of glucose tolerance and insulin sensitivity
  • A stone 14-unit T-maze for assessing the neurobiology of age-associated cognitive impairment (Med Associates Inc., St. Albans, Vermont)

"This is a unique resource," says Nathan K. LeBrasseur, Ph.D., director of the Healthspan Assessment Laboratory and member of the departments of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation and Physiology and Biomedical Engineering at Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. "It will also help build collaborations with disciplines exploring the impact of novel therapies for disease in laboratory mice on outcome measures, such as strength, endurance and mobility, that many of our patients care about most."