The Nematode Caenorhabditis elegans as a Model Organism to Study Metabolic Effects of ω-3 Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids in Obesity

Amal Bouyanfif, Shasika Jayarathne, Iurii Koboziev, Naima Moustaid-Moussa

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

36 Scopus citations


Obesity is a complex disease that is influenced by several factors, such as diet, physical activity, developmental stage, age, genes, and their interactions with the environment. Obesity develops as a result of expansion of fatmass when the intake of energy, stored as triglycerides, exceeds its expenditure. Approximately 40% of the US population suffers fromobesity, which represents a worldwide public health problem associated with chronic low-grade adipose tissue and systemic inflammation (sterile inflammation), in part due to adipose tissue expansion. In patientswith obesity, energy homeostasis is further impaired by inflammation, oxidative stress, dyslipidemia, and metabolic syndrome. These pathologic conditions increase the risk of developing other chronic diseases including diabetes, hypertension, coronary artery disease, and certain forms of cancer. It iswell documented that several bioactive compounds such as omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (ω-3 PUFAs) are able to reduce adipose and systemic inflammation and blood triglycerides and, in some cases, improve glucose intolerance and insulin resistance in vertebrate animal models of obesity. A promising model organism that is gaining tremendous interest for studies of lipid and energy metabolism is the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans. This roundworm stores fats as droplets within its hypodermal and intestinal cells. The nematode's transparent skin enables fat droplet visualization and quantification with the use of dyes that have affinity to lipids. This article provides a review of major research over the past several years on the use of C. elegans to study the effects of ω-3 PUFAs on lipid metabolism and energy homeostasis relative to metabolic diseases.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)165-178
Number of pages14
JournalAdvances in Nutrition
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2019


  • C. elegans
  • gene regulation
  • inflammation
  • metabolism
  • microRNA
  • obesity
  • ω-3 fatty acids


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