Genes as gerontological variables: Genetically heterogeneous stocks and complex systems

Gerald E. McClearn, Scott M. Hofer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


In gerontological research utilizing animal models, a major general strategy has been the use of uniform genotypes of inbred strains or their F1 hybrids. These animal models provide standard reference groups that are of major importance in establishing a reliable data base on aging phenomena. There are limitations to their usage, however, particularly in respect to descriptions or evaluations of variances or of covariance relationships. For these purposes, genetically heterogeneous stocks have the advantage that phenotypic variance (and covariance) has a genetic as well as an environmental component. The advantages of genetic heterogeneity are best realized when the stock has been systematically derived (usually by intercrossing of inbred strains) and maintained by a mating scheme of sufficient size to minimize inbreeding. Genetically heterogeneous stocks are of particularly high potential value in the study of complex systems. Some examples of their use in a gerontological context are provided.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)147-156
Number of pages10
JournalNeurobiology of Aging
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1999
Externally publishedYes


  • Aging
  • Animal models
  • Complex systems
  • Genetically heterogeneous stocks

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)
  • Aging
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Developmental Biology
  • Geriatrics and Gerontology


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