The role of insulin/IGF-like signaling in C. elegans longevity and aging.
Aging is characterized by general physiological decline over time. A hallmark of human senescence is the onset of various age-related afflictions including neurodegeneration, cardiovascular disease and cancer. Although environmental and stochastic factors undoubtedly contribute to the increased incidence of disease with age, recent studies suggest that intrinsic genetic determinants govern both life span and overall health. Current aging research aims at achieving the 'longevity dividend', in which life span extension in humans is accomplished with a concomitant increase in the quality of life (Olshansky et al., 2007). Significant progress has been made using model organisms, especially the nematode worm Caenorhabditis elegans, to delineate the genetic and biochemical pathways involved in aging to identify strategies for therapeutic intervention in humans. In this review, we discuss how C. elegans has contributed to our understanding of insulin signaling and aging.