The skin wrinkles on a microscopic worm may provide the secret behind a better and longer life in humans.
Researchers, based at the Washington State University's Elson S. Floyd College of Medicine, were studying Caenorhabditis elegans, which is a transparent nematode in the soil. It was then that they discovered how the nervous system takes charge of the small worm’s cuticle, an external barrier much like the skin, in case of bacterial infections. The research was published in ‘Science Advances’.
The C. elegans nematode is widely utilized in biologic studies as a model. It supports a comparatively simple structure and also has many genetic similarities with more intricate mammals such as humans. Hence this finding may prove to be vital for health in humans also.
The corresponding author on the research paper, Assistant Professor Jingru Sun stated that the research challenges the conventional belief that an external barrier, like the worm’s cuticle or the human skin, in no way responds to bacterial infections but is among to body’s natural defense against a pathogen. She added that they showed that, during the infection, the nematode can alter the structure of its cuticle and that the nervous system controls the defense response.
Head author on the research paper and a postdoctoral researcher in Sun's Lab, Durai Sellegounder stated that it is vital to preserve a healthy cuticle which serves as the first defense against external threats, for nematodes. Many pathogens generate proteins to eliminate this barrier and carry out the infection. Their conclusions show how nervous systems are capable of detecting these threats and responding by restructuring or further strengthening the protective layer.
Collagens are proteins abundantly found in mammals. Diminishing levels of collagen are linked to aging. In humans, the loss of this protein results in more than just wrinkles.
Tags : microscopic worm, skin wrinkles, immunity, life expectancy , genetic finding, secret to increased, ,