Identification by machine vision of the rate of motor activity decline as a lifespan predictor in C. elegans

Ao Lin Hsu*, Zhaoyang Feng, Meng Yin Hsieh, X. Z.Shawn Xu

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

80 Scopus citations


One challenge in aging research concerns identifying physiological parameters or biomarkers that can reflect the physical health of an animal and predict its lifespan. In C. elegans, a model organism widely used in aging research, motor deficits develop in old worms. Here we employed machine vision to quantify worm locomotion behavior throughout lifespan. We confirm that aging worms undergo a progressive decline in motor activity, beginning in early life. Importantly, the rate of motor activity decline rather than the absolute motor activity in the early-to-mid life of individual worms in an isogenic population inversely correlates with their lifespan, and thus may serve as a lifespan predictor. Long-lived mutant strains with deficits in insulin/IGF-1 signaling or food intake display a reduction in the rate of motor activity decline, suggesting that this parameter might also be used for across-strain comparison of healthspan. Our work identifies an endogenous physiological parameter for lifespan prediction and healthspan comparison.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1498-1503
Number of pages6
JournalNeurobiology of Aging
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 2009


  • Aging
  • Biomarker
  • C. elegans
  • Lifespan predictor
  • Locomotion
  • Motor activity
  • Motor deficits


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