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J Insect Physiol. 2000 Nov 1;46(11):1469-1476.

Eicosanoids rescue Spodoptera exigua infected with Xenorhabdus nematophilus, the symbiotic bacteria to the entomopathogenic nematode Steinernema carpocapsae.

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School of Bioresource Sciences, College of Natural Sciences, Andong National University, 760-749, Andong, South Korea


Xenorhabdus nematophilus is a pathogenic bacterium causing insect haemolymph septicemia, which leads to host insect death. To address the fundamental mechanisms underlying this haemolymph septicemia, or the immunodepressive response of the host insects following bacterial infection, we tested a hypothesis that the insect immune-mediating eicosanoid pathway is blocked by inhibitory action of the bacterium. Haemocoelic injection of the bacteria into the fifth instar larvae of Spodoptera exigua reduced the total number of living haemocytes with postinjection time and resulted in host death in 16 h at 25 degrees C. The lethal efficacy, described by the median lethal bacterial dose (LD(50)), was estimated as 33 colony-forming units per fifth instar larva of S. exigua. The lethal effect of the bacteria on the infected larvae decreased significantly with the addition of exogenous arachidonic acid (10 µg), a precursor of eicosanoids. In comparison, injections of dexamethasone (10 µg), a specific inhibitor of phospholipase A(2), and other eicosanoid biosynthesis inhibitors elevated significantly the bacterial pathogenicity. Live X. nematophilus induced the infected larvae to form less nodules than did the heat-killed bacteria, but the addition of arachidonic acid increased the number of nodules formed significantly in response to live bacterial injection. The treatment with dexamethasone and other inhibitors, however, decreased the nodule formation after injection of heat-killed bacteria. These results indicate that eicosanoids play a role in the immune response of S. exigua, and suggest strongly that X. nematophilus inhibits its eicosanoid pathway, which then results in immunodepressive haemolymph septicemia.

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