The development of an enzyme-linked immunoassay (ELISA) for the adipokinetic neuropeptide hormone, Pya-AKH, from the firebug Pyrrhocoris apterus L. is described. The ELISA measures as little as 20 fmol of Pya-AKH. Tested against a range of synthetic peptides, the assay has a high sensitivity for peptides containing the C-terminal motif FTPNWamide. The amounts of Pya-AKH in the brain, corpora cardiaca, suboesophageal ganglia, and fused thoracic and abdominal ganglionic mass are very small, with only the corpora cardiaca containing appreciable levels of the hormone (ca. 4 pmol per bug). Preliminary estimates of the persistence of the hormone in the haemolymph are consistent with values determined for AKHs in other insects, and suggest that Pya-AKH has a rapid turnover with a half-life of ca. 18 min. Measurements of circulating titres of AKH in Pyrrhocoris are only possible in the ELISA described here by using pooled samples of haemolymph, and after preliminary clean-up of the haemolymph samples. The titre of Pya-AKH in resting reproductive female Pyrrhocoris is ca. 1 fmol/μl
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