Research Paper Volume 8, Issue 4 pp 769—776

Rapamycin increases grip strength and attenuates age-related decline in maximal running distance in old low capacity runner rats

Qian-Li Xue1,2, , Huanle Yang1, , Hui-Fen Li1, , Peter M. Abadir1, , Tyesha N. Burks1, , Lauren G. Koch3, , Steven L. Britton3,4, , Joshua Carlson1, , Laura Chen1, , Jeremy D. Walston1,2, , Sean X. Leng1, ,

  • 1 Department of Medicine Division of Geriatric Medicine and Gerontology, Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, MD 21205, USA
  • 2 Center on Aging and Health, Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions, Baltimore, MD 21205, USA
  • 3 Department of Anesthesiology, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI 48109, USA
  • 4 Department of Molecular and Integrative Physiology, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI 48109, USA

Received: January 15, 2016       Accepted: February 24, 2016       Published: March 19, 2016
How to Cite

Copyright: © 2016 Xue et al. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.


Rapamycin is known to extend lifespan. We conducted a randomized placebo-controlled study of enteric rapamycin-treatment to evaluate its effect on physical function in old low capacity runner (LCR) rats, a rat model selected from diverse genetic background for low intrinsic aerobic exercise capacity without genomic manipulation and characterized by increased complex disease risks and aging phenotypes. The study was performed in 12 male and 16 female LCR rats aged 16-22 months at baseline. The treatment group was fed with rapamycin-containing diet pellets at approximately 2.24mg/kg body weight per day and the placebo group with the same diet without rapamycin for six months. Observation was extended for additional 2 months. Physical function measurements include grip strength measured as maximum tensile force using a rat grip strength meter and maximum running distance (MRD) using rat physical treadmill test. The results showed that rapamycin improved grip strength by 13% (p=.036) and 60% (p<.001) from its baseline in female and male rats, respectively. Rapamycin attenuated MRD decline by 66% (p<.001) and 46% (p=.319) in females and males, respectively. These findings provide initial evidence for beneficial effect of rapamycin on physical functioning in an aging rat model of high disease risks with significant implication in humans.


LCR: low capacity runner; MRD: maximum running distance; mTOR: mammalian target of rapamycin.