The effects of Gram-positive and Gram-negative bacterial toxins (LTA & LPS) on cardiac function in Drosophila melanogaster larvae

Kaitlyn E. Brock, Elizabeth R. Elliott, Maya O. Abul-Khoudoud, Robin L. Cooper

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The effects of Gram negative and positive bacterial sepsis depend on the type of toxins released, such as lipopolysaccharides (LPS) or lipoteichoic acid (LTA). Previous studies show LPS to rapidly hyperpolarize larval Drosophila skeletal muscle, followed by desensitization and return to baseline. In larvae, heart rate increased then decreased with exposure to LPS. However, responses to LTA, as well as the combination of LTA and LPS, on the larval Drosophila heart have not been previously examined. This study examined the effects of LTA and a cocktail of LTA and LPS on heart rate. The combined effects were examined by first treating with either LTA or LPS only, and then with the cocktail. The results showed a rapid increase in heart rate upon LTA application, followed by a gradual decline over time. When applying LTA followed by the cocktail, an increase in the rate occurred. However, if LPS was applied before the cocktail, the rate continued declining. These responses indicate the receptors or cellular cascades responsible for controlling heart rate within seconds and the rapid desensitization are affected by LTA or LPS and a combination of the two. The mechanisms for rapid changes which are not regulated by gene expression by exposure to LTA or LPS or associated bacterial peptidoglycans have yet to be identified in cardiac tissues of any organism.

Original languageEnglish
Article number104518
JournalJournal of Insect Physiology
StatePublished - Jun 2023

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This research was funded by alumni of the research group, personal funds (R.L.C.) and Chellgren Endowed Funding (R.L.C.); College of Arts and Sciences and Department of Neuroscience summer fellowship and Beckman Scholarship (K.E.B.).

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023 Elsevier Ltd


  • Drosophila
  • Heart
  • Immune
  • Lipopolysaccharides
  • Lipoteichoic acid

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Insect Science


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