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Sci Rep. 2016 Oct 19;6:35359. doi: 10.1038/srep35359.

Octopamine controls starvation resistance, life span and metabolic traits in Drosophila.

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Christian-Albrechts University Kiel, Zoology, Molecular Physiology, 24098 Kiel, Germany.
Bernhard-Nocht-Institute for Tropical Medicine, Hamburg, Germany.
Airway Research Center North (ARCN), Member of the German Center for Lung Research (DZL), Germany.


The monoamines octopamine (OA) and tyramine (TA) modulate numerous behaviours and physiological processes in invertebrates. Nevertheless, it is not clear whether these invertebrate counterparts of norepinephrine are important regulators of metabolic and life history traits. We show that flies (Drosophila melanogaster) lacking OA are more resistant to starvation, while their overall life span is substantially reduced compared with control flies. In addition, these animals have increased body fat deposits, reduced physical activity and a reduced metabolic resting rate. Increasing the release of OA from internal stores induced the opposite effects. Flies devoid of both OA and TA had normal body fat and metabolic rates, suggesting that OA and TA act antagonistically. Moreover, OA-deficient flies show increased insulin release rates. We inferred that the OA-mediated control of insulin release accounts for a substantial proportion of the alterations observed in these flies. Apparently, OA levels control the balance between thrifty and expenditure metabolic modes. Thus, changes in OA levels in response to external and internal signals orchestrate behaviour and metabolic processes to meet physiological needs. Moreover, chronic deregulation of the corresponding signalling systems in humans may be associated with metabolic disorders, such as obesity or diabetes.

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