Microanatomical and secretory characterization of the salivary gland of the Rhodnius prolixus (Hemiptera, Reduviidae, Triatominae), a main vector of Chagas disease.
Rhodnius prolixus is the principal vector of Trypanosoma cruzi, the aetiological agent of Chagas disease in American countries. This insect is haematophagous during all life cycles and, to antagonize its haemostatic, inflammatory and immune systems, it secretes saliva while feeding on the vertebrate host's blood. Here, we investigated characteristic changes of the salivary glands (SG) that occur during insect development. Two pairs of lobules and ducts comprise the SG of R. prolixus. The organ's size increases over time, but the microanatomical structures are preserved during insect development. Both lobules have a single layer epithelium formed by binucleated cells, which surrounds the saliva reservoir. The principal lobule presents higher polysaccharide and total protein contents than the accessory lobe. A network of external muscle layers is responsible for organ contraction and saliva release. Apocrine, merocrine and holocrine secretion types occur in the secretory epithelium. Dopamine, serotonin and tyrosine-hydroxylase are neural-related molecules that regulate SG function both during and after feeding.