Measuring Oxidative Stress in Caenorhabditis elegans: Paraquat and Juglone Sensitivity Assays   

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Original research article

A brief version of this protocol appeared in:
PLOS Genetics
Feb 2015


Oxidative stress has been proposed to be one of the main causes of aging and has been implicated in the pathogenesis of many diseases. Sensitivity to oxidative stress can be measured by quantifying survival following exposure to a reactive oxygen species (ROS)-generating compound such as paraquat or juglone. Sensitivity to oxidative stress is a balance between basal levels of ROS, the ability to detoxify ROS, and the ability to repair ROS-mediated damage.

Keywords: Oxidative stress, C. elegans, Paraquat, Juglone, Stress resistance, Reactive oxygen species


A number of approaches have been used to test sensitivity to oxidative stress in Caenorhabditis elegans including exposure to paraquat, juglone, t-BOOH, arsenite, H2O2, or hyperbaric oxygen(Keith et al., 2014). All of these assays serve to increase the levels of ROS in the worm to a point where survival is decreased. The assays differ in the primary type of ROS that the worm is exposed to (e.g., superoxide, hydrogen peroxide), the rate of exposure (acute versus chronic) and the subcellular compartment believed to be most affected (e.g., paraquat increases superoxide levels primarily in the mitochondria (Castello et al., 2007). Based on these differences, it is possible that a particular strain of worm exhibits increased sensitivity or increased resistance to oxidative stress in one assay, but does not show a difference in another assay. It is also possible that a strain of worms is sensitive to oxidative stress at one age, but resistant to that same form of oxidative stress at a different age. Thus, to obtain a full understanding of sensitivity to oxidative stress in a particular strain it is necessary to use multiple assays at different time points.

Copyright: © 2017 The Authors; exclusive licensee Bio-protocol LLC.
How to cite: Senchuk, M. M., Dues, D. J. and Van Raamsdonk, J. M. (2017). Measuring Oxidative Stress in Caenorhabditis elegans: Paraquat and Juglone Sensitivity Assays. Bio-protocol 7(1): e2086. DOI: 10.21769/BioProtoc.2086.

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