Arrested Development Makes for Long-Lived Worms

Starvation suspends cellular activity in C. elegans larvae and extends their lifespan. 

By | June 23, 2014

WIKIMEDIACutting back on food makes worms live twice as long as normal, according to a study published last week (June 19) in PLOS Genetics.

Caenorhabditis elegans grow from larvae to adulthood in three to four days, making the nematodes an ideal model for studying development. Researchers at Duke University found that when C. elegans larvae were starved at a stage when they’re actively forming large amounts of tissue, the worms quickly entered a quiescent state.

The arrest in cellular activity occurred at previously unknown checkpoints. The researchers’ results suggested that insulin-like and steroid hormone signaling mechanisms regulated this process.

“These pathways are conserved in mammals and are linked to growth processes and diseases,” the authors wrote in their paper. “It is possible that similar checkpoints may also be important in human development.”

Being starved for as long as two weeks at this late larval stage had no apparent effects on later development. When nutrients were available again, the worms resumed development and lived as typical adults. But because they were alive and not growing for two weeks, this deprivation doubled the worms’ typical two-week lifespan.

“The main question is how the decision is made to either arrest development or continue,” coauthor Adam Schindler, told BBC Nature. “Understanding the key players in this decision could provide insights into why tissues degenerate during ageing and reveal possible ways of slowing this degeneration.”

Add a Comment

Avatar of: You

You

Processing...
Processing...

Sign In with your LabX Media Group Passport to leave a comment

Not a member? Register Now!

LabX Media Group Passport Logo

Popular Now

  1. Antarctica Is Turning Green
  2. How to Tell a Person’s “Brain Age”
  3. Male Fish Borrows Egg to Clone Itself
  4. Life Science Funding Cuts Leaked
    The Nutshell Life Science Funding Cuts Leaked

    According to a document posted online less than a day before the release of the official 2018 budget proposal, the National Institutes of Health could face even deeper cuts than previously suggested by the Trump administration.

AAAS