Caenorhabditis elegans as a Model for the Effects of Phytochemicals on Mitochondria and Aging

Biomolecules. 2022 Oct 24;12(11):1550. doi: 10.3390/biom12111550.


The study of aging is an important topic in contemporary research. Considering the demographic changes and the resulting shifts towards an older population, it is of great interest to preserve youthful physiology in old age. For this endeavor, it is necessary to choose an appropriate model. One such model is the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans (C. elegans), which has a long tradition in aging research. In this review article, we explore the advantages of using the nematode model in aging research, focusing on bioenergetics and the study of secondary plant metabolites that have interesting implications during this process. In the first section, we review the situation of aging research today. Conventional theories and hypotheses about the ongoing aging process will be presented and briefly explained. The second section focuses on the nematode C. elegans and its utility in aging and nutrition research. Two useful genome editing methods for monitoring genetic interactions (RNAi and CRISPR/Cas9) are presented. Due to the mitochondria's influence on aging, we also introduce the possibility of observing bioenergetics and respiratory phenomena in C. elegans. We then report on mitochondrial conservation between vertebrates and invertebrates. Here, we explain why the nematode is a suitable model for the study of mitochondrial aging. In the fourth section, we focus on phytochemicals and their applications in contemporary nutritional science, with an emphasis on aging research. As an emerging field of science, we conclude this review in the fifth section with several studies focusing on mitochondrial research and the effects of phytochemicals such as polyphenols. In summary, the nematode C. elegans is a suitable model for aging research that incorporates the mitochondrial theory of aging. Its living conditions in the laboratory are optimal for feeding studies, thus enabling bioenergetics to be observed during the aging process.

Keywords: Caenorhabditis elegans; aging; mitochondria; phytochemicals; polyphenols.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Aging / metabolism
  • Animals
  • Caenorhabditis elegans Proteins* / metabolism
  • Caenorhabditis elegans* / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Mitochondria / metabolism
  • Phytochemicals / metabolism


  • Caenorhabditis elegans Proteins
  • Phytochemicals

Grants and funding

This research received no external funding.