The adipokinetic cells are neuron-like unipolar cells, the cell bodies and cell processes of which are intermingled within the glandular part of the corpus cardiacum. In Schistocerca gregaria, they produce two adipokinetic hormones, AKH-I and -II, whereas in Locusta migratoria an additional hormone, AKH-III, is present. The three AKHs are produced by the same cells and are co-localized in secretory granules. The biosynthesis and processing of the AKH prohormones to the bioactive hormones, which has been elucidated in detail for AKH-I and -II in S. gregaria, takes less than 75 min and goes on continuously. In older locusts in particular, the adipokinetic cells contain intracisternal granules, widely dilated cisternae of the rough endoplasmic reticulum, which function as stores of prohormones of AKH-I and -II, not of AKH-III. The adipokinetic cells are subjected to regulation by a number of neural and humoral substances, neural influences coming from secretomotor cells in the lateral part of the protocerebrum. Flight activity is the only natural stimulus unequivocally shown to induce the release of AKHs, which in L. migratoria results in parallel secretion of all three AKHs. During secretory stimulation, young secretory granules containing newly synthesized hormones are preferentially released over older granules. Secretory stimulation is not accompanied by a clear increase in the levels of the AKH mRNAs and the AKH prohormones and in the rate of synthesis of the (pro-)AKHs. Apparently, a coupling between release and biosynthesis of the AKHs in the adipokinetic cells is very loose or does not even exist.
Copyright 2002 Wiley-Liss, Inc.