, Volume 52, Issue 5, pp 474–480 | Cite as

Adenine nucleotide metabolism during anoxia and postanoxic recovery in insects

  • W. Weyel
  • G. Wegener
Multi-Author Reviews


Severe hypoxia (anoxia), if maintained for more than a few minutes, causes irreversible damage in humans and other mammals. Why mammals are so vulnerable to anoxia is not fully understood. It is therefore of interest to study animals that are more tolerant of anoxia in order to identify physiological and metabolic properties that are correlated with a high tolerance of anoxia. Insects have high metabolic rates and their energy metabolism is dependent on aerobic ATP production. In insects, as in mammals, anoxia causes a rapid breakdown of physiological function, resulting in a state similar to rigor mortis. This is accompanied by a precipitous decrease in metabolic rate. In contrast to mammals, however, insects can survive anoxia for many hours and recover spontaneously and completely when air is again available. We have followed the metabolism of adenine nucleotides in locust tissues (mainly in the flight muscle) over 3 h of anoxia and during recovery from 1 h of anoxia. The content of ATP in the flight muscle dropped to 1% of normal during 2 h of anoxia. The main product was AMP which increased in content more than 20-fold. Some of the AMP was deaminated to IMP and this was further dephosphorylated to inosine. Altogether less than 30% of the total adenine nucleotides were degraded during 3 h of anoxia and this may contribute to the amazing ability of insects to recover from prolonged anoxia.

Key words

Hypoxia/anoxia insects mammals metabolism of adenine nucleotides tissue damage oxygen-free radicals 


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Copyright information

© Birkhäuser Verlag 1996

Authors and Affiliations

  • W. Weyel
    • 1
  • G. Wegener
    • 1
  1. 1.Institut für ZoologieJohannes-Gutenberg-UniversitätMainz(Germany)

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