Two forms of death in ageing Caenorhabditis elegans

Nat Commun. 2017 May 23:8:15458. doi: 10.1038/ncomms15458.


Ageing generates senescent pathologies, some of which cause death. Interventions that delay or prevent lethal pathologies will extend lifespan. Here we identify life-limiting pathologies in Caenorhabditis elegans with a necropsy analysis of worms that have died of old age. Our results imply the presence of multiple causes of death. Specifically, we identify two classes of corpse: early deaths with a swollen pharynx (which we call 'P deaths'), and later deaths with an atrophied pharynx (termed 'p deaths'). The effects of interventions on lifespan can be broken down into changes in the frequency and/or timing of either form of death. For example, glp-1 mutation only delays p death, while eat-2 mutation reduces P death. Combining pathology and mortality analysis allows mortality profiles to be deconvolved, providing biological meaning to complex survival and mortality profiles.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aging / genetics*
  • Animals
  • Caenorhabditis elegans / genetics
  • Caenorhabditis elegans / physiology*
  • Caenorhabditis elegans Proteins / metabolism
  • Death*
  • Escherichia coli
  • Longevity / genetics
  • Microscopy
  • Mutation
  • Oxidative Stress / drug effects
  • Pharynx / microbiology
  • Pharynx / physiopathology
  • Software
  • Wound Healing


  • Caenorhabditis elegans Proteins