A successful ecdysis in insects requires the precise coordination of behaviour with the developmental changes that occur late in a moult. This coordination involves two sets of endocrine cells: the peripherally located Inka cells, which release ecdysis triggering hormone (ETH), and the centrally located neurosecretory neurones, the VM neurones, which release eclosion hormone (EH). These two sets of endocrine cells mutually excite one another: EH acts on the Inka cells to cause the release of ETH. ETH, in turn, acts on the VM neurones to cause the release of EH. This positive-feedback relationship allows the Inka cells and the VM neurones to be the peripheral and central halves, respectively, of a decision-making circuit. Once conditions for both halves have been satisfied, their reciprocal excitation results in a massive EH/ETH surge in the blood as well as a release of EH within the central nervous system. This phasic signal then causes the tonic activation of a distributed network of peptidergic neurones that contain crustacean cardioactive peptide. The relationship of the latter cells to the subsequent maintenance of the ecdysis motor programme is discussed.

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