Caenorhabditis elegans is a good model for studying the genetics of ageing but little is known about the pathobiology of ageing in this species. In October 23 Nature, Laura A. Herndon and colleagues from The State University of New Jersey, USA, show that ageing C. elegans. suffer progressive muscle deterioration that is influenced by accidental (stochastic) and genetic factors.

Herndon et al used both fluorescence and electron microscopy to examine cell integrity in different tissues of C. elegans at various ages. They observed a gradual, progressive deterioration of muscle — resembling human sarcopenia. By contrast, the nervous system was remarkably well preserved, even in advanced old age.

In addition, they found evidence that randomness of cell damage as well as genetic factors are significant in C. elegans ageing, with extensive variability both between animals of the same age and between cells of the same type within individuals. "Thus,...

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