Caenorhabditis elegans as an Alternative Model to Study Senescence of Host Defense and the Prevention by Immunonutrition

  • Tomomi Komura
  • Takanori Ikeda
  • Kaori Hoshino
  • Ayumi Shibamura
  • Yoshikazu Nishikawa
Conference paper
Part of the Advances in Experimental Medicine and Biology book series (AEMB, volume 710)


Whether nutritional control can retard senescence of immune function and decrease mortality from infectious diseases has not yet been established; the difficulty of establishing a model has made this a challenging topic to investigate. Caenorhabditis elegans has been extensively used as an experimental system for biological studies. Particularly for aging studies, the worm has the advantage of a short and reproducible life span. The organism has also been recognized as an alternative to mammalian models of infection with bacterial pathogens in this decade. Hence we have studied whether the worms could be a model host in the fields of immunosenescence and immunonutrition. Feeding nematodes lactic acid bacteria (LAB) resulted in increases in average life span of the nematodes compared to those fed Escherichia coli strain OP50, a standard food bacteria. The 7-day-old nematodes fed LAN from age 3 days were clearly endurable to subsequent salmonella infection compared with nematodes fed OP50 before the salmonella infection. The worm could be a unique model to study effects of food factors on longevity and host defense, so-called immunonutrition. Then we attempted to establish an immunosenescence model using C. elegans. We focused on the effects of worm age on the Legionella infection and the prevention by immunonutrition. No significant differences in survival were seen between 3-day-old worms fed OP50 and 3-day-old worms infected with virulent Legionella strains. However, when the worms were infected from 7.5 days after hatching, the virulent Legionella strains were obviously nematocidal for the worms’ immunosenescence. In contrast, nematodes fed with bifidobacteria prior to Legionella infection were resistant to Legionella. C. elegans could act as a unique alternative host for immunosenescence and resultant opportunistic infection, and immunonutrition researches.


Lactic Acid Bacterium Nematode Growth Medium Model Host Salmonella Infection Reproducible Life Span 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


  1. Anyanful A et al (2005) Paralysis and killing of Caenorhabditis elegans by enteropathogenic Escherichia coli requires the bacterial tryptophanase gene. Mol Microbiol 57:988–1007PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Avery L, Thomas JH (1997) Feeding and defecation. In: Riddle DL, Blumenthal T, Meyer BJ, Priess JR (eds) C. elegans II. Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Press, Cold Spring Harbor, pp 679–716Google Scholar
  3. Bogden JD, Louria DB (2004) Nutrition and immunity in the elderly. In: Hughes DA, Gail Darlington J, Bendich A (eds) Diet and human immune function nutrition and health. Humana Press, Totowa, pp 79–101Google Scholar
  4. Bradley SF, Kauffman CA (1990) Aging and the response to salmonella infection. Exp Gerontol 25:75–80PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Brassinga AK et al (2010) Caenorhabditis is a metazoan host for Legionella. Cell Microbiol 12:343–361PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Effros RB, Walford RL, Weindruch R, Mitcheltree C (1991) Influences of dietary restriction on immunity to influenza in aged mice. J Gerontol 46:B142–147PubMedGoogle Scholar
  7. Fields BS, Benson RF, Besser RE (2002) Legionella and legionnaires’ disease: 25 years of investigation. Clin Microbiol Rev 15:506–526PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Finch CE, Ruvkun G (2001) The genetics of aging. Annu Rev Genomics Hum Genet 2:435–462PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Garsin DA et al (2001) A simple model host for identifying Gram-positive virulence factors. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 98:10892–10897PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Grubeck-Loebenstein B (1997) Changes in the aging immune system. Biologicals 25:205–208PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Hayek MG et al (1997) Vitamin E supplementation decreases lung virus titers in mice infected with influenza. J Infect Dis 176:273–276PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Hilbi H, Weber SS, Ragaz C, Nyfeler Y, Urwyler S (2007) Environmental predators as models for bacterial pathogenesis. Environ Microbiol 9:563–575PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Hoshino K et al (2008) Evaluation of Caenorhabditis elegans as the host in an infection model for food-borne pathogens. Jpn J Food Microbiol 25:137–147Google Scholar
  14. Ikeda T, Yasui C, Hoshino K, Arikawa K, Nishikawa Y (2007) Influence of lactic acid bacteria on longevity of Caenorhabditis elegans and host defense against Salmonella entetica serovar Enteritidis. Appl Environ Microbiol 73:6404–6409PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Jules M, Buchrieser C (2007) Legionella pneumophila adaptation to intracellular life and the host response: clues from genomics and transcriptomics. FEBS Lett 581:2829–2838PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Komura T, Yasui C, Miyamoto H, Nishikawa Y (2010) Caenorhabditis elegans as an alternative model host for Legionella pneumophila and the protective effects of Bifidobacterium infantis. Appl Environ Microbiol 76:4105–4108PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Kurz CL, Tan MW (2004) Regulation of aging and innate immunity in C. elegans. Aging Cell 3:185–193PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Metchnikoff E (1907) The prolongation of life. Heinemann, LondonGoogle Scholar
  19. Miller E, Gay N (1997) Effect of age on outcome and epidemiology of infectious diseases. Biologicals 25:137–142PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Miyamoto H, Yoshida S, Taniguchi H, Shuman HA (2003) Virulence conversion of Legionella pneumophila by conjugal transfer of chromosomal DNA. J Bacteriol 185:6712–6718PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Moulias R et al (1985) Respective roles of immune and nutritional factors in the priming of the immune response in the elderly. Mech Ageing Dev 31:123–137PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Naidu AS, Bidlack WR, Clemens RA (1999) Probiotic spectra of lactic acid bacteria (LAB). Crit Rev Food Sci Nutr 39:13–126PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Nicholas HR, Hodgkin J (2004) Responses to infection and possible recognition strategies in the innate immune system of Caenorhabditis elegans. Mol Immunol 41:479–493PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Riddle DL, Blumenthal T, Meyer BJ, Priess JR (1997) C. elegans II. Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Press, Cold Spring HarborGoogle Scholar
  25. Sadosky AB, Wiater LA, Shuman HA (1993) Identification of Legionella pneumophila genes required for growth within and killing of human macrophages. Infect Immun 61:5361–5373PubMedGoogle Scholar
  26. Schulenburg H, Kurz CL, Ewbank JJ (2004) Evolution of the innate immune system: the worm perspective. Immunol Rev 198:36–58PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Shibamura A, Ikeda T, Nishikawa Y (2009) A method for oral administration of hydrophilic substances to Caenorhabditis elegans: effects of oral supplementation with antioxidants on the nematode lifespan. Mech Ageing Dev 130:652–655PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Tan MW, Mahajan-Miklos S, Ausubel FM (1999) Killing of Caenorhabditis elegans by Pseudomonas aeruginosa used to model mammalian bacterial pathogenesis. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 96:715–720PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Tomomi Komura
    • 1
  • Takanori Ikeda
    • 1
  • Kaori Hoshino
    • 1
  • Ayumi Shibamura
    • 1
  • Yoshikazu Nishikawa
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Interdisciplinary Studies for Advanced Aged SocietyGraduate School of Human Life Science, Osaka City UniversityOsakaJapan
  2. 2.Department of Interdisciplinary Studies for Advanced Aged SocietyGraduate School of Human Life Science, Osaka City UniversityOsakaJapan

Personalised recommendations