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Current Opinion in Insect Science
Vol 41, 2020, Pages 71-78

Role of peptide hormones in insect gut physiology

RaniaAbou El Asrar1, Dorien Cools1, Jozef Vanden Broeck

KU Leuven, Department of Biology, Research Group of Molecular Developmental Physiology and Signal Transduction, Naamsestraat 59 Box 2465, 3000 Leuven, Belgium.


Nutrient uptake and digestion are essential for optimal growth and development. In insects, these processes are regulated by the gut-brain axis, which is a neurohumoral communication system for maintaining gut homeostasis. The insect gut is a complex organ consisting of three distinct structures, denominated foregut, midgut and hindgut, each with their specific specializations. These specializations are tightly regulated by the interplay of several neuropeptides: a versatile group of signalling molecules involved in a multitude of processes including gut physiology. Neuropeptides take part in the regulation of gut processes ranging from digestive enzyme release to muscle activity and satiety. Some neuropeptide mimetics are a promising strategy for ecological pest management. This review focuses on a selection of neuropeptides that are well-known for their role in gut physiology, and neuropeptides for which the mode of action is yet to be unravelled.

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