The Tunicate CIONA: A Model System for Understanding the Relationship Between Regeneration and Aging. Academic Article uri icon


  • The use of the tunicate Ciona intestinalis as a model system to study the relationship between regeneration and aging is reviewed. Ciona has powerful regeneration capacities, which fade with age. Some additional benefits are-, a relatively short life span, the ability to study regeneration in vitro, the close phylogenetic relationship between tunicates and vertebrates, and the host of molecular tools already established in this system. The neural complex (NC), the oral siphon (OS), and the oral siphon pigment organs (OPO) have high capacities for regeneration. However, these organs show an inverse relationship between rate of regeneration and age. The ability to regenerate a complete OS disappears in the oldest animals of a natural population, probably due to the inability to form a blastema at the wound site. Effects on blastema formation could also be involved in the reduction of NC regeneration capacity. The fidelity of OPO restoration is also compromised by excess differentiation of precursor cells in local siphon niches in the oldest animals. The Ciona model provides a pathway to understand the molecular basis of these phenomena.

publication date

  • January 2015