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Demographic analysis reveals gradual senescence in the flatworm Macrostomum lignano
Mouton, S.; Willems, M.; Back, P.; Braeckman, B.P.; Borgonie, G. (2009). Demographic analysis reveals gradual senescence in the flatworm Macrostomum lignano. Front. Zool. 6: 7 pp. dx.doi.org/10.1186/1742-9994-6-15
In: Frontiers in Zoology. BioMed Central: London. ISSN 1742-9994, more
Peer reviewed article  

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Keyword
    Marine

Authors  Top 
  • Mouton, S., more
  • Willems, M., more
  • Back, P.
  • Braeckman, B.P., more
  • Borgonie, G., more

Abstract
    Free-living flatworms ("Turbellaria") are appropriate model organisms to gain better insight into the role of stem cells in ageing and rejuvenation. Ageing research in flatworms is, however, still scarce. This is partly due to culture difficulties and the lack of a complete set of demographic data, including parameters such as median lifespan and age-specific mortality rate. In this paper, we report on the first flatworm survival analysis. We used the species Macrostomum lignano, which is an emerging model for studying the reciprocal influence between stem cells, ageing and rejuvenation. This species has a median lifespan of 205 ± 13 days (average ± standard deviation [SD]) and a 90th percentile lifespan of 373 ± 32 days. The maximum lifespan, however, is more than 745 days, and the average survival curve is characterised by a long tail because a small number of individuals lives twice as long as 90% of the population. Similar to earlier observations in a wide range of animals, in M. lignano the age-specific mortality rate increases exponentially, but levels off at the oldest ages. To compare the senescence of M. lignano with that of other ageing models, we determined the mortality rate doubling time, which is 0.20 ± 0.02 years. As a result, we can conclude that M. lignano shows gradual senescence at a rate similar to the vertebrate ageing models Rattus norvegicus and Mus musculus. We argue that M. lignano is a suitable model for ageing and rejuvenation research, and especially for the role of stem cells in these processes, due to its accessible stem cell system and regeneration capacity, and the possibility of combining stem cell studies with demographic analyses.

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