ABSTRACT: A majority of the genes linked to human disease belong to evolutionarily conserved pathways found in simpler organisms, such as Caenorhabditis elegans and Drosophila melanogaster. The genes and pathways of these simple organisms can be genetically and pharmacologically manipulated to better understand the function of their orthologs in vivo, and how these genes are involved in the pathogenesis of different diseases. Often these manipulations can be performed much more rapidly in flies and worms than in mammals, and can generate high quality in vivo data that is translatable to mammalian systems. Other qualities also make these organisms particularly well suited to the study of human disease. For example, developing in vivo disease models can help illuminate the basic mechanisms underlying disease, as in vitro studies do not always provide the natural physiological complexity associated with many diseases. Invertebrate models are relatively inexpensive, easy to work with, have short lifespans, and often have very well characterized and stereotypical development and behavior. This is particularly true for the two invertebrate model organisms that this review will focus on: Caenorhabditis elegans and Drosophila melanogaster. In this review, we will first describe an overview of modeling Alzheimer's disease in flies and worms, and will then highlight some of the more recent advances that these "simple" animals have contributed to our understanding of Alzheimer's disease in recent years.
Journal of Alzheimer's disease: JAD 08/2012; · 3.74 Impact Factor