Author(s): Ahmad S, Pardini RS
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Abstract The antioxidant enzymatic defense of insects for the regulation of oxygen toxicity was investigated. Insect species examined were lepidopterous larvae of the cabbage looper (Trichoplusia ni), southern armyworm (Spodoptera eridania), and black swallowtail (Papilio polyxenes). These phytophagous species are subject to both endogenous and exogenous sources of oxidative stress from toxic oxygen radicals, hydrogen peroxide (H2O2) and lipid peroxides (LOOH). In general, the constitutive levels of the enzymes superoxide dismutase (SOD), catalase (CAT), glutathione transferase (GT), and its peroxidase activity (GTpx), and glutathione reductase (GR), correlate well with natural feeding habits of these insects and their relative susceptibility to prooxidant plant allelochemicals, quercetin (a flavonoid), and xanthotoxin (a photoactive furanocoumarin). Induction of SOD activity which rapidly destroys superoxide radicals, appears to be the main response to dietary prooxidant exposure. A unique observation includes high constitutive activity of CAT and a broader subcellular distribution in all three insects than observed in most mammalian species. These attributes of CAT appear to be important in the prevention of excessive accumulation of cytotoxic H2O2. Unlike mammalian species, insects possess very low levels of a GPOX-like activity toward H2O2. Irrefutable proof that this activity is due to a selenium-dependent GPOX found in mammals, is lacking at this time. However, the activity of selenium-independent GTpx is unusually high in insects, suggesting that GTpx and not GPOX plays a prominent role in scavenging deleterious LOOHs. The GSSG generated from the GPOX and GTpx reactions may be reduced to GSH by GR activity. A key role of SOD in protecting insects from prooxidant toxicity was evident when its inhibition resulted in enhanced toxicity towards prooxidants. The role of antioxidant compounds in protecting these insects from toxic forms of oxygen has not been explored in depth. A major finding, however, is that these insects are lutein accumulators. Lutein is a dihydroxy (diol) derivative of beta-carotene, and it is a good quencher of activated forms of oxygen and free radicals. Levels of lutein are highest in P. polyxenes which specializes in feeding on prooxidant-containing plants.
This article was published in Free Radic Biol Med
and referenced in Journal of Proteomics & Bioinformatics