CCAP and FMRFamide-like peptides accelerate the contraction rate of the antennal accessory pulsatile organs (auxiliary hearts) of mosquitoes

J Exp Biol. 2016 Aug 1;219(Pt 15):2388-95. doi: 10.1242/jeb.141655. Epub 2016 May 31.


Insects rely on specialized accessory pulsatile organs (APOs), also known as auxiliary hearts, to propel hemolymph into their antennae. In most insects, this is accomplished via the pulsations of a pair of ampulla located in the head, each of which propels hemolymph across an antenna via an antennal vessel. Once at the distal end of the appendage, hemolymph returns to the head via the antennal hemocoel. Although the structure of the antennal hearts has been elucidated in various insect orders, their hormonal modulation has only been studied in cockroaches and other hemimetabolous insects within the superorder Polyneoptera, where proctolin and FMRFamide-like peptides accelerate the contraction rate of these auxiliary hearts. Here, we assessed the hormonal modulation of the antennal APOs of mosquitoes, a group of holometabolous (Endopterygota) insects within the order Diptera. We show that crustacean cardioactive peptide (CCAP), FMRFamide and SALDKNFMRFamide increase the contraction rate of the antennal APOs and the heart of Anopheles gambiae Both antennal hearts are synchronously responsive to these neuropeptides, but their contractions are asynchronous with the contraction of the heart. Furthermore, we show that these neuropeptides increase the velocity and maximum acceleration of hemolymph within the antennal space, suggesting that each contraction is also more forceful. To our knowledge, this is the first report demonstrating that hormones of a holometabolous insect modulate the contraction dynamics of an auxiliary heart, and the first report that shows that the hormones of any insect accelerate the velocity of hemolymph in the antennal space.

Keywords: Anopheles gambiae; Diptera; Dorsal vessel; Hemocoel; Hemolymph; Neuropeptide.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Anopheles / drug effects
  • Anopheles / physiology*
  • Arthropod Antennae / drug effects
  • Arthropod Antennae / physiology*
  • FMRFamide / pharmacology*
  • Heart / drug effects
  • Heart / physiology*
  • Hemolymph / drug effects
  • Hemolymph / metabolism
  • Myocardial Contraction / drug effects
  • Myocardial Contraction / physiology*
  • Neuropeptides / pharmacology*
  • Rheology / drug effects


  • Neuropeptides
  • crustacean cardioactive peptide
  • FMRFamide