The immune and circulatory systems are functionally integrated across insect evolution

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Science Advances  25 Nov 2020:
Vol. 6, no. 48, eabb3164
DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.abb3164


The immune and circulatory systems of mammals are functionally integrated, as exemplified by the immune function of the spleen and lymph nodes. Similar functional integration exists in the malaria mosquito, Anopheles gambiae, as exemplified by the infection-induced aggregation of hemocytes around the heart valves. Whether this is specific to mosquitoes or a general characteristic of insects remained unknown. We analyzed 68 species from 51 families representing 16 orders and found that infection induces the aggregation of hemocytes and pathogens on the heart of insects from all major branches of the class Insecta. An expanded analysis in the holometabolous mosquito, Aedes aegypti, and the hemimetabolous bed bug, Cimex lectularius, showed that infection induces the aggregation of phagocytic hemocytes on the hearts of distantly related insects, with aggregations mirroring the patterns of hemolymph flow. Therefore, the functional integration of the immune and circulatory systems is conserved across the insect tree of life.

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