The nematode C. elegans as an animal model to explore toxicology in vivo: solid and axenic growth culture conditions and compound exposure parameters

Curr Protoc Toxicol. 2007 Feb;Chapter 1:Unit1.9. doi: 10.1002/0471140856.tx0109s31.


Significant limitations in vertebrate animal model systems include the time involved, the expense, the fact that in vitro results may not reflect live animal pathology, difficulties in transporting the toxin past the blood brain barrier, and the inability to identify the mechanism of action without some a priori knowledge of the toxin's target. The availability of the complete genome sequence of the nematode C. elegans, coupled with the worm's size, growth rate, ease of culturing, and the realization that basic biological mechanisms and disease processes between worms and humans are highly conserved, makes this genetically tractable model a remarkable opportunity to dissect and identify in vivo the cellular processes involved in toxin-induced cell dysregulation and death. This unit includes protocols for culturing worms on solid and axenic media and acute and chronic exposure parameters for Parkinson's disease-associated toxins and hemin chloride. These methods provide the groundwork for using this powerful model system to further elucidate and understand the molecular mechanisms involved in nutrition as well as toxicological responses relevant to human diseases.

MeSH terms

  • Animal Use Alternatives
  • Animals
  • Caenorhabditis elegans / drug effects*
  • Caenorhabditis elegans / genetics
  • Caenorhabditis elegans / growth & development*
  • Models, Animal*
  • Neurotoxins / toxicity*
  • Toxicity Tests / methods*
  • Toxicology / methods*


  • Neurotoxins