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Toxicol Sci. 2008 Nov;106(1):5-28. doi: 10.1093/toxsci/kfn121. Epub 2008 Jun 19.

Caenorhabditis elegans: an emerging model in biomedical and environmental toxicology.

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Nicholas School of the Environment, Duke University, Durham, North Carolina 27750, USA.


The nematode Caenorhabditis elegans has emerged as an important animal model in various fields including neurobiology, developmental biology, and genetics. Characteristics of this animal model that have contributed to its success include its genetic manipulability, invariant and fully described developmental program, well-characterized genome, ease of maintenance, short and prolific life cycle, and small body size. These same features have led to an increasing use of C. elegans in toxicology, both for mechanistic studies and high-throughput screening approaches. We describe some of the research that has been carried out in the areas of neurotoxicology, genetic toxicology, and environmental toxicology, as well as high-throughput experiments with C. elegans including genome-wide screening for molecular targets of toxicity and rapid toxicity assessment for new chemicals. We argue for an increased role for C. elegans in complementing other model systems in toxicological research.

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