Insects, like other organisms, must deal with a wide variety of potentially challenging environmental factors during the course of their life. An important example of such a challenge is the phenomenon of oxidative stress. This review summarizes the current knowledge on the role of adipokinetic hormones (AKH) as principal stress responsive hormones in insects involved in activation of anti-oxidative stress response pathways. Emphasis is placed on an analysis of oxidative stress experimentally induced by various stressors and monitored by suitable biomarkers, and on detailed characterization of AKH’s role in the anti-stress reactions. These reactions are characterized by a significant increase of AKH levels in the insect body, and by effective reversal of the markers—disturbed by the stressors—after co-application of the stressor with AKH. A plausible mechanism of AKH action in the anti-oxidative stress response is discussed as well: this probably involves simultaneous employment of both protein kinase C and cyclic adenosine 3′,5′-monophosphate pathways in the presence of extra and intra-cellular Ca2+
stores, with the possible involvement of the FoxO transcription factors. The role of other insect hormones in the anti-oxidative defense reactions is also discussed.
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