Eyestalk-intact, but not de-eyestalked, crabs (Cancer antennarius) given five injections of 5-hydroxytryptamine (5HT, 750 μg per injection) in 48 hr showed significant reductions in hemolymph ecdysteroid titers within the first 12 hr which continued through Hour 72; the effect was reversible (Hours 72-144). The 5HT synthesis inhibitor p-chlorophenylalanine (PCPA; 60 μg) or the 5HT receptor antagonist cyproheptadine (CPH; 100 μg) caused significant rises in serum ecdysteroids in intact, but not in de-eyestalked, crabs; with four injections over 48 hr, a rise was evident at 12 hr, continued through 72 hr, and returned to control levels within 4 days post-treatment. Stress due to handling depressed ecdysteroid levels, an effect that was reversed by PCPA and CPH; values in the treated groups returned to prestress levels within 24 hr and were significantly greater than prestress levels within 48 hr. 5HT treatment did not further decrease stress-reduced ecdysteroid titers. Normal behaviors are described in posturing and in defensive responses to stress; these were changed in both intact and de-eyestalked crabs by 5HT treatment (but not by PCPA or CPH). These findings support the hypothesis that release of molt-inhibiting hormone (MIH) from crab eyestalks is mediated by 5HT and suggest that stress induces 5HT-mediated MIH release.
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