Genetic and environmental conditions that increase longevity in Caenorhabditis elegans decrease metabolic rate

Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 1999 Sep 28;96(20):11399-403. doi: 10.1073/pnas.96.20.11399.


Mutations that increase the longevity of the soil nematode Caenorhabditis elegans could define genes involved in a process specific for aging. Alternatively, these mutations could reduce animal metabolic rate and increase longevity as a consequence. In ectotherms, longevity is often negatively correlated with metabolic rate. Consistent with these observations, environmental conditions that reduce the metabolic rate of C. elegans also extend longevity. We found that the metabolic rate of long-lived C. elegans mutants is reduced compared with that of wild-type worms and that a genetic suppressor that restored normal longevity to long-lived mutants restored normal metabolic rate. Thus, the increased longevity of some long-lived C. elegans mutants may be a consequence of a reduction in their metabolic rate, rather than an alteration of a genetic pathway that leads to enhanced longevity while maintaining normal physiology. The actual mechanism responsible for the inverse correlation between metabolic rate and longevity remains unknown.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Caenorhabditis elegans / growth & development
  • Caenorhabditis elegans / metabolism*
  • Caenorhabditis elegans Proteins
  • Mutation
  • Receptor, Insulin / genetics
  • Temperature


  • Caenorhabditis elegans Proteins
  • DAF-2 protein, C elegans
  • Receptor, Insulin