The physiological characteristics of two cardioacceleratory peptides (CAPs) were analysed in the tobacco hawkmoth, Manduca sexta, to determine if either CAP functioned as a cardioregulatory neurohormone. In vivo heart recordings from pharate and newly emerged adults revealed a dramatic increase in heart rate associated with wing-spreading behaviour. Bioassay of whole blood taken from wing-spreading (WS) animals indicated the presence of a stage-specific, blood-borne cardioacceleratory factor(s). Gel filtration of WS blood identified two cardioacceleratory factors which co-eluted with the two CAPs. A depletion of the ventral nerve cord levels of both CAPs was observed during WS behaviour. Measurements of blood CAP levels showed that the peak CAP titres were coincident with the initiation of WS behaviour. Experimental manipulations that delayed the onset of WS behaviour also prevented CAP release. High potassium incubation evoked the release of both CAPs in a calcium-dependent manner. In vivo injections of CAP1 or CAP2 caused a dose-dependent increase in heart rate. These results confirm the hypothesis that both CAPs function as cardioregulatory neurohormones during wing-spreading behaviour in Manduca sexta.

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