Essential oils (EOs) are lipophilic secondary metabolites obtained from plants; terpenoids represent the main components of them. A lot of studies showed neurotoxic actions of EOs. In insects, they cause paralysis followed by death. This feature let us consider components of EOs as potential bioinsecticides. The inhibition of acetylcholinesterase (AChE) is the one of the most investigated mechanisms of action in EOs. However, EOs are rather weak inhibitors of AChE. Another proposed mechanism of EO action is a positive allosteric modulation of GABA receptors (GABArs). There are several papers that prove the potentiation of GABA effect on mammalian receptors induced by EOs. In contrast, there is lack of any data concerning the binding of EO components in insects GABArs. In insects, EOs act also via the octopaminergic system. Available data show that EOs can increase the level of both cAMP and calcium in nervous cells. Moreover, some EO components compete with octopamine in binding to its receptor. Electrophysiological experiments performed on Periplaneta americana
have shown similarity in the action of EO components and octopamine. This suggests that EOs can modify neuron activity by octopamine receptors. A multitude of potential targets in the insect nervous system makes EO components interesting candidates for bio-insecticides.
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