Heavy metals, behavior, and neurodegeneration: Using Caenorhabditis elegans to untangle a can of worms

Samuel Caito, Michael Aschner

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


The complexity of the vertebrate brain has made the study of neurodegenerative disease processes slow, difficult, and expensive. Caenorhabditis elegans offers viable in vivo model system for addressing numerous issues pertinent to neurodegenerative diseases. Differentiation and migration patterns in the nematode are well characterized, thus allowing for analysis of changes in nervous system in response to mutations and toxic insults. The full sequencing of the nematode genome and a high-density map of polymorphisms for the wild type nematode allows for mapping of gene mutations and linking of mechanisms of neurodegeneration to genetic susceptibility. In addition to the high level of gene conservation, the processes of synaptic release, trafficking and formation are also conserved between this invertebrate and mammalians. Given these advantages, C. elegans has been employed in numerous studies to address neurodegeneration and mechanisms of toxicity of a wide range of toxicants. In this chapter, we provide an overview on the system model and discuss contemporary insights derived from C. elegans on the involvement of metals in behavior and neurodegenerative diseases.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationMetal Ions in Neurological Systems
PublisherSpringer-Verlag Wien
Number of pages11
ISBN (Electronic)9783709110010
ISBN (Print)3709110009, 9783709110003
StatePublished - Jun 1 2012
Externally publishedYes


  • Alzheimer's disease
  • Behavior
  • Caenorhabditis elegans
  • Metals
  • Methylmercury
  • Neurodegeneration
  • Parkinson's disease

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Medicine
  • General Neuroscience


Dive into the research topics of 'Heavy metals, behavior, and neurodegeneration: Using Caenorhabditis elegans to untangle a can of worms'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this