Dragonflies infected with noninvasive gregarine gut parasites (Microsporidia, Apicomplexa) have reduced flight-muscle performance, an inability to metabolize lipid in their muscles, twofold-elevated hemolymph carbohydrate concentrations, and they accumulate fat in their thorax in a manner analogous to mammalian obesity. Gregarine infection is associated with inappropriate responses of hemolymph carbohydrate concentration to insulin and with chronic activation in the flight muscles of p38 MAP kinase, a signaling molecule involved in immune and stress responses. Short-term exposure to gregarine excretory/secretory products caused elevated blood carbohydrate and p38 MAPK activation in healthy individuals. These characteristics comprise a set of symptoms and processes that are known in mammals as metabolic syndrome but which have not previously been described in other animal taxa. In addition to expanding the known taxonomic breadth of metabolic disease, these results indicate that insects may be useful experimental models for studying its underlying biology and mechanisms.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)18805-18809
Number of pages5
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number49
StatePublished - Dec 5 2006

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General


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