Autophagy in freshwater planarians

Methods Enzymol. 2008;451:439-65. doi: 10.1016/S0076-6879(08)03227-8.


Planarians provide a new and emergent in vivo model organism to study autophagy. On the whole, maintaining the normal homeostatic balance in planarians requires continuous dynamic adjustment of many processes, including proliferation, apoptosis, differentiation, and autophagy. This makes them very different from other models where autophagy only occurs at very specific times and/or in very specific organs. This chapter aims to offer a general vision of planarians as a model organism, placing more emphasis on those characteristics related to autophagy and describing how autophagy fits into the processes of body remodeling during regeneration and starvation. We also define exactly what is known about autophagy in these organisms and we discuss the techniques available to study the relevant processes, as well as the techniques that are currently being developed. As such, this chapter will serve as a compilation of the techniques available to investigate autophagy in planarians.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Autophagy / physiology*
  • Caspase 3 / metabolism
  • Gene Transfer Techniques
  • In Situ Hybridization / methods
  • In Situ Nick-End Labeling / methods
  • Microscopy, Electron, Transmission / methods
  • Models, Biological*
  • Planarians / physiology*
  • Planarians / ultrastructure
  • Regeneration / physiology*


  • Caspase 3