Octopamine-mediated neuromodulation of insect senses

Neurochem Res. 2007 Sep;32(9):1511-29. doi: 10.1007/s11064-007-9344-7. Epub 2007 May 5.


Octopamine functions as a neuromodulator, neurotransmitter, and neurohormone in insect nervous systems. Octopamine has a prominent role in influencing multiple physiological events: (a) as a neuromodulator, it regulates desensitization of sensory inputs, arousal, initiation, and maintenance of various rhythmic behaviors and complex behaviors such as learning and memory; (b) as a neurotransmitter, it regulates endocrine gland activity; and (c) as a neurohormone, it induces mobilization of lipids and carbohydrates. Octopamine exerts its effects by binding to specific proteins that belong to the superfamily of G protein-coupled receptors and share the structural motif of seven transmembrane domains. The activation of octopamine receptors is coupled with different second messenger pathways depending on species, tissue source, receptor type and cell line used for the expression of cloned receptor. The second messengers include adenosine 3',5'-cyclic monophosphate (cAMP), calcium, diacylglycerol (DAG), and inositol 1,4,5-trisphosphate (IP3). The cAMP activates protein kinase A, calcium and DAG activate protein kinase C, and IP3 mobilizes calcium from intracellular stores. Octopamine-mediated generation of these second messengers is associated with changes in cellular response affecting insect behaviors. The main objective of this review is to discuss significance of octopamine-mediated neuromodulation in insect sensory systems.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Behavior, Animal / drug effects
  • Behavior, Animal / physiology
  • Insecta / physiology*
  • Neurotransmitter Agents / physiology*
  • Octopamine / physiology*
  • Receptors, Biogenic Amine / physiology
  • Sensory Receptor Cells / drug effects


  • Neurotransmitter Agents
  • Receptors, Biogenic Amine
  • norsynephrine receptor
  • Octopamine