Developmental biomarkers of aging in Caenorhabditis elegans

Zachary Pincus, Frank J. Slack

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

46 Scopus citations


The developmental process of the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans is famously invariant; however, these animals have surprisingly variable lifespans, even in extremely homogenous environments. Inter-individual differences in muscle-function decline, accumulation of lipofuscin in the gut, internal growth of food bacteria, and ability to mobilize heat-shock responses all appear to be predictive of a nematode's remaining lifespan; whether these are causal, or mere correlates of individual decline and death, has yet to be determined. Moreover, few "upstream" causes of inter-individual variability have been identified. It may be the case that variability in lifespan is entirely due to stochastic damage accumulation; alternately, perhaps such variability has a developmental origin and/or genes involved in developmental canalization also act to buffer phenotypic heterogeneity later in life. We review these two hypotheses with an eye toward whether they can be experimentally differentiated.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1306-1314
Number of pages9
JournalDevelopmental Dynamics
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2010


  • Aging biomarker
  • Inter-individual variability
  • Longevity


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