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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

Antioxidant defense of the midgut epithelium by the peritrophic envelope in caterpillars.

The peritrophic envelope (PE) is an extracellular matrix that is secreted by the midgut epithelium in most arthropods. In addition to protecting the midgut epithelium from abrasive food particles and microbial pathogens, in vitro experiments have suggested that the PE functions as a radical-scavenging antioxidant in caterpillars. This study tested the hypothesis that the PE is a "sacrificial antioxidant" in vivo in caterpillars. As a sacrificial antioxidant, the PE would (1) bind catalytic metal ions, (2) become oxidized itself, and (3) protect the midgut epithelium from oxidative damage. Each of these functions was supported by our results: the PE in Malacosoma disstria adsorbed increased amounts of iron as the concentration of iron was increased in its diet. Iron adsorption by the PE helped protect the midgut epithelium of M. disstria from oxidative damage over a wide range of ingested iron concentrations. Secondly, while the midgut epithelium was protected, protein oxidation in the PE increased 108% when tannic acid was oxidized in the endoperitrophic space. Finally, when the formation of the PE was inhibited by Calcofluor, protein carbonyls in the midgut epithelia of M. disstria and Orgyia leucostigma increased by two- to threefold. We conclude that the PE functions as an effective iron-binding and radical-scavenging antioxidant that protects the midgut epithelia of caterpillars.[1]


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