• insect;
  • mosquito;
  • growth factors;
  • pituitary;
  • prolactin;
  • LH

Whilst looking for vertebrate growth factor homologues in insects, we found that a soluble fraction of a 12–80kDa molecular weight band peaking at 25kDa, isolated from mosquito larvae extracts by gel permeation chromatography, had a modulatory effect on mouse hepatocytes and adult human mononuclear cell proliferation. The effect disappeared after heating the extract at 90°C for 30min, suggesting that the active factor may be a protein. In order to determine the activity of the extract on cell function, we assessed the effect of the extract on pituitary hormone secretion in vitro. We assayed a dialyzed fraction (MW greater than 12kDa) of mosquito larvae for its effect on the release of luteinizing hormone (LH) and prolactin (PRL) from dispersed rat pituitary cells. In normal anterior pituitary (AP) cells we found that the extract had a stimulatory effect on LH release but an inhibitory action on prolactin secretion. In AP cells obtained from estrogen-induced hyperplasia, the extract had an inhibitory effect on prolactin secretion. In all cases the effects were time- and dose-dependent. Interference of the mosquito proteins with the radioimmunoassay was checked and found to be negligible. After a 60min incubation, cell viability was comparable in control and treated cells. Furthermore, the biological effect of the extract was thermally unstable. Our results suggest that mosquito larvae may share common factors with mammals, probably peptidic in nature, which are able to modulate cell function.