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Predicting death by the loss of intestinal function.


The ability to predict when an individual will die can be extremely useful for many research problems in aging. A technique for predicting death in the model organism, Drosophila melanogaster, has been proposed which relies on an increase in the permeability of the fly intestinal system, allowing dyes from the diet to permeate the body of the fly shortly before death. In this study we sought to verify this claim in a large cohort study using different populations of D. melanogaster and different dyes. We found that only about 50% of the individuals showed a visible distribution of dye before death. This number did not vary substantially with the dye used. Most flies that did turn a blue color before death did so within 24 hours of death. There was also a measurable effect of the dye on the fly mean longevity. These results would tend to limit the utility of this method depending on the application the method was intended for.

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