Genes as gerontological variables: Uniform genotypes

Gerald E. McClearn, Scott M. Hofer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


Genetic conceptualizations and procedures have become integral to the conduct of research across the spectrum of life sciences, including gerontology, even when genetics is not the focus of inquiry. Among the research tools thus provided, one of the most basic is that of inbred strains. A close approximation to genetic uniformity is achieved by a sufficient number of successive generations of matings of relatives, and, once this near-uniformity is attained, the members of an inbred strain constitute a reference group relatively stable over time and available to diverse investigators. Different inbred strains possess different genotypes, so that numerous distinctive reference groups are available. The stability of these groups enhances prospects of replication-testing, and makes possible the focused accumulation of pertinent data. Phenotypic differences among strains identify particular groups that can be most appropriate for particular subsequent research objectives (and also provide ipso facto evidence of genetic influence on the phenotype). The very substantial advantages of the uniform genotypes provided by inbred strains (and by their F1 offspring) are purchased at the cost of limited generalizability of results and constraints on assessment of co-variation among variables. Uniform genotypes are, thus, not a tool for all purposes but must be seen as a powerful basic tool within an abundant genetic tool-kit. Particular research purposes will require use of more than one tool from the kit.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)95-104
Number of pages10
JournalNeurobiology of Aging
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1999
Externally publishedYes


  • Aging
  • Animal models
  • Inbred strains

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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


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