Living With Urate Anti-oxidants

Rhodnius prolixus

Rhodnius prolixus
Photo: Thierry Heger

Blood feeding insects such as the “kissing bug”, Rhodnius prolixus create a high volume of oxygen radicals when the blood meal is metabolized. Oxygen radicals can damage cell membranes if in high enough concentration and must be neutralized. The neutralization process involves the reaction of the oxygen radical with an oxygen scavenger.

Mammalian blood contains copious amounts of the protein hemoglobin. Metabolism of the protein creates nitrogenous waste that can be excreted in the form of uric acid but some is retained. Uric acid is a scavenger of oxygen radicals.  Rhodnius maintains high levels (about 5 mM) of uric acid in its hemolymph.  Uric acid is responsible for neutralizing almost all of the oxygen radicals. The product of the reaction of oxygen with uric acid can be excreted. Using uric acid for protection against oxygen radicals makes certain that not all goes to waste.

About jjneal

Jonathan Neal is an Associate Professor of Entomology at Purdue University and author of the textbook, Living With Insects (2010). This blog is a forum to communicate about the intersection of insects with people and policy. This is a personal blog. The opinions and materials posted here are those of the author and are in no way connected with those of my employer.
This entry was posted in Biomaterials, by jjneal, Environment. Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Living With Urate Anti-oxidants

  1. Pingback: Living With Urate Anti-oxidants – Entomo Planet

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