Neuropeptides associated with the regulation of feeding in insects

Gen Comp Endocrinol. 2009 May 15;162(1):93-104. doi: 10.1016/j.ygcen.2008.08.003. Epub 2008 Aug 19.


The stomatogastric nervous system plays a pivotal role in feeding behaviour. Central to this system is the frontal ganglion, which is responsible for foregut motor activity, and hence the passage of food through the gut. Many insect peptides, which exhibit myoactivity on the visceral muscles of the gut in vitro, have been detected in the stomatogastric nervous system by immunochemical or mass spectrometric techniques. This localisation of myoactive peptides, particularly in the frontal ganglion, implies roles for these peptides in the neural control and modulation of feeding in insects. Insect sulfakinins, tachykinins, allatotropin and proctolin have all been shown to stimulate the foregut muscles, whereas myosuppressins, myoinhibitory peptides and allatostatins all inhibited spontaneous contractions of the foregut in a variety of insects. Some of these peptides, when injected, inhibited feeding in vivo. Both the A-type and B-type allatostatins suppressed feeding activity when injected into the cockroach, Blattella germanica and the Manduca sexta C-type allatostatin and allatotropin inhibited feeding when injected into the larvae of two noctuid moths, Lacanobia oleracea and Spodoptera frugiperda, respectively. Injection of sulfakinins into the fly Phormia regina, the locust Schistocera gregaria and the cockroach B. germanica also suppressed feeding, whereas silencing the sulfakinin gene through the injection of double stranded RNA resulted in an increase in food consumption in the cricket Gryllus bimaculatus. The regulation of feeding in insects is clearly very complex, and involves the interaction of a number of mechanisms, one of which is the release, either centrally or locally, of neuropeptides. However, the role of neuropeptides, their mechanisms of action, interactions with each other, and their release are still poorly understood. It is also unclear why insects possess such a number of different peptides, some with multiples copies or homologues, which stimulate or inhibit gut motility, and how their release, sometimes from the same neurone, is regulated. These neuropeptides may also act at sites other than visceral muscles, such as centrally through the brain or on gut stretch receptors.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Behavior, Animal / drug effects
  • Behavior, Animal / physiology*
  • Feeding Behavior / drug effects
  • Feeding Behavior / physiology
  • Ganglia, Invertebrate / metabolism
  • Insect Proteins / metabolism
  • Insect Proteins / physiology*
  • Insecta / drug effects
  • Insecta / metabolism
  • Insecta / physiology*
  • Neuropeptides / metabolism
  • Neuropeptides / physiology*
  • Salivary Glands / metabolism


  • Insect Proteins
  • Neuropeptides