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Physiol Rev. 1997 Oct;77(4):963-1032.

Hormonal regulation in insects: facts, gaps, and future directions.

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Zoology Department, University of Cape Town, Rondebosch, South Africa.


There are two main classes of hormones in insects: 1) the true hormones produced by epithelial glands and belonging to the ecdysteroids or juvenile hormones and 2) the neuropeptide hormones produced by neurosecretory cells. Members of these classes regulate physiological, developmental, and behavioral events in insects. Detailed accounts are given on isolation, identification, structure-activity relationships, mode of action, biological function, biosynthesis, inactivation, metabolism, and feedback for hormones involved in 1) metabolic regulation such as the adipokinetic/hypertrehalosemic peptides and the diuretic and antidiuretic peptides; 2) stimulation or inhibition of muscle activity such as the myotropic peptides; 3) control of reproduction, growth, and development such as allatotropins, allatostatins, juvenile hormones, ecdysteroids, folliculostimulins and folliculostatins, ecdysis-triggering and eclosion hormones, pheromone biosynthesis activating neuropeptides, and diapause hormones; and 4) regulation of tanning and of color change. Because of the improvements in techniques for isolation and structure elucidation, there has been rapid progress in our knowledge of the chemistry of certain neuropeptide families. With the employment of molecular biological techniques, the genes of some neuropeptides have been successfully characterized. There are, however, areas that are still quite underdeveloped. These are, for example, 1) receptor studies, which are still in their infancy; 2) the hormonal status of certain sequenced peptides is not clarified; and 3) functional studies are lacking even for established hormones. The authors plead for a concerted effort to continue research in this field, which will also advance our knowledge into the use of insect hormones as safer and species-specific molecules for insect pest management.

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