Modeling human diseases in Caenorhabditis elegans

Biotechnol J. 2010 Dec;5(12):1261-76. doi: 10.1002/biot.201000183. Epub 2010 Nov 29.


Genes linked to human diseases often function in evolutionarily conserved pathways, which can be readily dissected in simple model organisms. Because of its short lifespan and well-known biology, coupled with a completely sequenced genome that shares extensive homology with that of mammals, Caenorhabditis elegans is one of the most versatile and powerful model organisms. Research in C. elegans has been instrumental for the elucidation of molecular pathways implicated in many human diseases. In this review, we introduce C. elegans as a model organism for biomedical research and we survey recent relevant findings that shed light on the basic molecular determinants of human disease pathophysiology. The nematode holds promise of providing clear leads towards the identification of potential targets for the development of new therapeutic interventions against human diseases.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Caenorhabditis elegans / genetics
  • Caenorhabditis elegans / metabolism*
  • Cell Death / genetics
  • Cell Death / physiology
  • Disease Models, Animal*
  • Humans
  • Neurodegenerative Diseases / genetics
  • Neurodegenerative Diseases / metabolism