Elevated CO2 levels affect development, motility, and fertility and extend life span in Caenorhabditis elegans

Kfir Sharabi, Anat Hurwitz, Amos J. Simon, Greg J. Beitel, Richard I. Morimoto, Gideon Rechavi, Jacob I. Sznajder, Yosef Gruenbaum*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

53 Scopus citations


Hypercapnia (high CO2 levels) occurs in a number of lung diseases and it is associated with worse outcomes in patients with chronic obstructive lung disease (COPD). However, it is largely unknown how hypercapnia is sensed and responds in nonneuronal cells. Here, we used C. elegans to study the response to nonanesthetic CO2 levels and show that levels exceeding 9% induce aberrant motility that is accompanied by age-dependent deterioration of body muscle organization, slowed development, reduced fertility and increased life span. These effects occur independently of the IGF-R, dietary restriction, egg laying or mitochondrial-induced aging pathways. Transcriptional profiling analysis shows specific and dynamic changes in gene expression after 1, 6, or 72 h of exposure to 19% CO2 including increased transcription of several 7-transmembrane domain and innate immunity genes and a reduction in transcription of many of the MSP genes. Together, these results suggest specific physiological and molecular responses to hypercapnia, which appear to be independent of early heat shock and HIF mediated pathways.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)4024-4029
Number of pages6
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number10
StatePublished - 10 Mar 2009


  • Aging
  • Gene expression
  • Hypercapnia
  • Muscle deterioration
  • Physiology


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