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J Comp Neurol. 1988 Jan 15;267(3):343-56.

Metamorphosis of identified neurons innervating thoracic neurohemal organs in the blowfly: transformation of cholecystokininlike immunoreactive neurons.

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Department of Zoology, University of Lund, Sweden.


With antisera to gastrin/cholecystokinin, we studied the postembryonic development of neurons in the thoracic ganglia of the blowfly Calliphora erythrocephala. There are some changes in the population of thoracico-abdominal neurons displaying gastrin/CCK-like immunoreactivity (CCKLI): some CCKLI neurons cannot be found after pupariation; other neurons become immunoreactive during metamorphosis. Six large thoracic CCKLI neurons could, however, be followed through metamorphosis. These CCKLI neurons innervate neuropil in thoracic ganglia and segmental neurohemal organs in the larva. In the adult insect the same neurons innervate many regions of thoracic neuropil and extensive neurohemal areas dorsally in the fused thoracico-abdominal ganglia. The immunoreactive terminals are located in the neural sheath, and electron microscopy shows that only an extracellular basal lamina separates them from the circulating hemolymph. On the basis of the location of their terminals, it can be suggested that the six CCKLI neurons have functions as neurosecretory cells both in the larva and in the adult. In both developmental stages the neurons can interact with large portions of the thoracic nervous system and release bioactive substance into the circulation. A CCK-like substance may be used both as a transmitter/neuromodulator and as a neurohormone by the same neuron. The larval neurohemal organs are described here for the first time. They show characteristics of thoracic perisympathetic organs known to exist in more primitive insects. The adult neurohemal regions on the other hand are typical of higher insects. Since the neurohemal areas are continuously (during development) innervated by the six large CCKLI neurons, we conclude that the larval neurohemal organs metamorphose into the adult neurohemal area in the neural sheath.

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