Interactions between the locust endocrine and immune systems have been studied in vivo in relation to nodule formation and activation of the prophenoloxidase cascade in the haemolymph. Injection of bacterial lipopolysaccharide (LPS) extracted from Escherichia coli induces nodule formation in larval and adult locusts but does not increase phenoloxidase activity in the haemolymph. Nodule formation starts rapidly after injection of LPS and is virtually complete within 8 h, nodules occurring mainly associated with the dorsal diaphragm on either side of the heart, but sometimes with smaller numbers associated with the ventral diaphragm on either side of the nerve cord. Co-injection of adipokinetic hormone-I (Lom-AKH-I) with LPS stimulates greater numbers of nodules to be formed in larval and adult locusts, and activates phenoloxidase in the haemolymph of mature adults but not of nymphs. The effect of co-injection of Lom-AKH-I with LPS on nodule formation is seen at low doses of hormone; only 0.4 pmol of Lom-AKH-I per adult locust is needed to produce a 50% increase in the number of nodules formed. When different components of LPS from the E. coli Rd mutant are tested, the mono- and the diphosphoryl Lipid A components have similar effects to the intact LPS. Remarkably, detoxified LPS activates phenoloxidase in the absence of Lom-AKH-I, although co-injection with hormone does enhance this response. Both diphosphoryl Lipid A and detoxified LPS induce a level of nodule formation that is enhanced by co-injection of Lom-AKH-I, but monophosphoryl Lipid A does not initiate nodule formation even when injected with hormone. Co-injection of a water-soluble inhibitor of eicosanoid synthesis, diclofenac (2-[(2, 6-dichlorophenyl)amino] benzeneacetic acid), reduces nodule formation in response to injections of LPS (both in the absence and presence of hormone) in a dose-dependent manner, but does not prevent activation of phenoloxidase in adult locusts. It is shown that nodule formation and activation of the prophenoloxidase in locust haemolymph can both be enhanced by Lom-AKH–I, but it is argued that these processes involve distinct mechanisms in which eicosanoid synthesis is important for nodule formation, but not for the increased phenoloxidase activity
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