Insights from the worm: the C. elegans model for innate immunity

Semin Immunol. 2014 Aug;26(4):303-9. doi: 10.1016/j.smim.2014.04.005. Epub 2014 May 21.


The nematode worm Caenorhabditis elegans comprises an ancestral immune system. C. elegans recognizes and responds to viral, bacterial, and fungal infections. Components of the RNA interference machinery respond to viral infection, while highly conserved MAPK signaling pathways activate the innate immune response to bacterial infection. C. elegans has been particularly important for exploring the role of innate immunity in organismal stress resistance and the regulation of longevity. Also functions of neuronal sensing of infectious bacteria have recently been uncovered. Studies on nematode immunity can be instructive in exploring innate immune signaling in the absence of specialized immune cells and adaptive immunity.

Keywords: Ancestral immunity; C. elegans; Host–pathogen interaction; Innate immunity.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Caenorhabditis elegans / cytology
  • Caenorhabditis elegans / immunology*
  • Caenorhabditis elegans / metabolism
  • Caenorhabditis elegans Proteins / immunology
  • Caenorhabditis elegans Proteins / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Immunity, Innate*
  • Models, Animal*
  • Regeneration


  • Caenorhabditis elegans Proteins