By Robert Arking

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In the absence of the latter two facts, it would have been (and was) easy to conclude erroneously that kidney failure is a normal component of aging in rats. Only by comparison of that conclusion with data taken from other strains was the error recognized and corrected. Fortunately, the National Institute on Aging quickly recognized the need to develop and support rat and mouse strains well suited for research on aging, along with developing sophisticated genetic techniques to best probe aging mechanisms in these animals (Harrison and Roderick, 1997; Sprott, 1997).

E) L-shaped curve. See text for further explanation. The interest in life tables is prompted by the fact that the relationship between age and mortality they display may tell us whether a population is senescing. 11, but would not likely to focus our attention on populations C–D. In addition, without the survival curve data, we would not be able to deter- 35 mine whether the life expectancy of an aging population could be improved and, if so, which portion of the life cycle should be the target of such interventions.

25 0 0 8 16 24 32 40 48 56 64 72 80 Age (days) There was no way of determining the cause of death of individual animals—whether illness, predation, or natural causes. 4) and this survival curve are based on dx data, for the investigator had no other recourse. All other numbers in the life table were generated from this cross-sectional dx data, on the assumption that the population consisted of 1000 individuals and had a constant age structure. Of interest here is the existence of two periods of relatively heavy mortality—very early in life and then again very late in life—with high survival rates in the intermediate years.

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