Insulin and Memory in Invertebrates

Junko Nakai, Nozomi Chikamoto, Kanta Fujimoto, Yuki Totani, Dai Hatakeyama, Varvara E. Dyakonova, Etsuro Ito*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


Insulin and insulin-like peptides (ILP) help to maintain glucose homeostasis, whereas insulin-like growth factor (IGF) promotes the growth and differentiation of cells in both vertebrates and invertebrates. It is sometimes difficult to distinguish between ILP and IGF in invertebrates, however, because in some cases ILP has the same function as IGF. In the present review, therefore, we refer to these peptides as ILP/IGF signaling (IIS) in invertebrates, and discuss the role of IIS in memory formation after classical conditioning in invertebrates. In the arthropod Drosophila melanogaster, IIS is involved in aversive olfactory memory, and in the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans, IIS controls appetitive/aversive response to NaCl depending on the duration of starvation. In the mollusk Lymnaea stagnalis, IIS has a critical role in conditioned taste aversion. Insulin in mammals is also known to play an important role in cognitive function, and many studies in humans have focused on insulin as a potential treatment for Alzheimer’s disease. Although analyses of tissue and cellular levels have progressed in mammals, the molecular mechanisms, such as transcriptional and translational levels, of IIS function in cognition have been far advanced in studies using invertebrates. We anticipate that the present review will help to pave the way for studying the effects of insulin, ILPs, and IGFs in cognitive function across phyla.

Original languageEnglish
Article number882932
JournalFrontiers in Behavioral Neuroscience
Publication statusPublished - 2022 Apr 26


  • Caenorhabditis elegans
  • Drosophila
  • Lymnaea
  • classical conditioning
  • insulin
  • insulin-like growth factor
  • memory
  • starvation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology
  • Cognitive Neuroscience
  • Behavioral Neuroscience


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