The nervous systems of helminths are predominantly peptidergic in nature, although it is likely that the full range of regulatory peptides used by these organisms has yet to be elucidated. Attempts to identify novel helminth neuropeptides are being made using immunocytochemistry with antisera raised against peptides isolated originally from insects. One of these antisera was raised against allatostatin III, a peptide isolated originally from the cockroach, Diploptera punctata, and a member of a family of related peptides found in insects. Allatostatin immunoreactivity was found throughout the nervous systems of Mesocestoides corti tetrathyridia, and adult Moniezia expansa, Diclidophora merlangi, Fasciola hepatica, Schistosoma mansoni, Ascaris suum and Panagrellus redivivus. Immunostaining was observed in the nerve cords and anterior ganglia of all the helminths. It was also apparent in the subtegumental nerves and around the reproductive apparatus of the flatworms, in neurones in the pharynx of D. merlangi, F. hepatica, A. suum and P. redivivus, and in fibres innervating the anterior sense organs in the nematodes. Immunostaining in all species was both reproducible and specific in that it could be abolished by pre-absorption of the antiserum with allatostatins I-IV. These results suggest that molecules related to the D. punctata allatostatins are important components in the nervous systems of a number of helminth parasites, and a free-living nematode. Their distribution within the nervous system suggests they function as neurotransmitters/ neuromodulators with roles in locomotion, feeding, reproduction and sensory perception.
|Number of pages||10|
|Publication status||Published - 1995|