The intersegmental muscles of the giant silkmoth Antheraea polyphemus (Cramer) can undergo two forms of degenerative changes: a wasting atrophy that lasts about 6 days or rapid dissolution that is completed within 30 h. Muscle atrophy is induced by a dramatic decline in the endogenous titres of the steroid moulting hormone 20-hydroxyecdysone. 20-Hydroxyecdysone appears to act as a trophic factor for the muscles as infusion or injection of this steroid blocks further atrophy of the muscle. The normal decline of 20-hydroxyecdysone also allows the muscles to become competent to respond to the peptide eclosion hormone. Eclosion hormone is then released and acts directly on these muscles to induce rapid cell death which is morphologically and physiologically distinct from steroid-regulated atrophy.

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