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C-elegans worm death can help us understand and possibly delay death in humans

•, brian wang

The study, published in the journal Cell Reports, is the first discovery of rigor mortis in worms and provides new insight into the process of 'organismal' death.

Cell Reports – Coupling of Rigor Mortis and Intestinal Necrosis during C. elegans Organismal Death

•A wave of body wall muscle contraction occurs during C. elegans organismal death
•This rigor mortis-like phenomenon is coupled to a wave of intestinal necrosis
•Both waves are accompanied by Ca2+ release and a drop in ATP levels
•Properties of long-lived daf-2 mutants suggest resistance to organismal death


Organismal death is a process of systemic collapse whose mechanisms are less well understood than those of cell death. We previously reported that death in C. elegans is accompanied by a calcium-propagated wave of intestinal necrosis, marked by a wave of blue autofluorescence (death fluorescence).

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