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Cell Tissue Res. 1976 Jun 14;169(2):193-209.

The effects of starvation on the planarian worm Polycelis tenuis Iijima.


Employing a combination of microscopical, biochemical and autoradiographic techniques, the primary effects of starvation on adult polycelis tenuis have been studied. Over a five week period of starvation there is on average a 32% decrease in the size of the organism. This decrease is contributed to by a reduction in mitosis and an increase in cell shrinkage autolysis and death. During starvation (following a sharp rise in RNA synthesis) there is a distinct sequence of events; four peaks of acid phosphatase activity can be resolved. The first is associated with the immediate response of the gastrodermis to feeding; the second (after 6 to 7 days) with increased autophagy and dedifferentiation in the gland cells and with muscle lysis of cells. The third peak (after 14 to 15 days) is contributed to largely by the lysis of cells in the gut and the fourth peak (after 25 to 26 days) is caused by an extensive lysis of the reproductive system. Fine structural changes involving increased intracellular vacuolation, autophagy, crinophagy, atrophy of muscle, increased intercellular space and loss of basement membrane matrix have been related to changes in enzyme pattern. Nerve cells appear unchanged throughout the first five weeks of starvation. Pigment and gland cells loose their characteristic granules, dedifferentiate and become morphologically similar to the undifferentiatied neoblasts. Dedifferentiation and the mechanisms involved in the survival of starvation are discussed.

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