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Keywords:

  • apoptosis;
  • programmed cell death;
  • anuran metamorphosis;
  • skin;
  • caspase-3

Abstract

Apoptosis (programmed cell death) occurs during normal development of anurans in organs such as gills, gut, and tail. For example, apoptotic cells have been reported in the luminal epithelium along the length of the digestive tract of both larvae and frogs; however, timing of the peak number of such cells varies in different species. The purpose of the present study was to ascertain whether apoptosis also varies by species during metamorphic restructuring of the skin (as larval epithelium is replaced by adult epidermis). To determine this, cross-sections of dorsal skin from representative larval stages and frogs of Rana pipiens, R. catesbeiana, and Ceratophrys ornata were incubated with monoclonal antibody against active caspase-3, one of the main enzymes in the apoptotic cascade. We observed apoptotic cells in the epidermis of the skin of the three species and found that such cells were more numerous in larval stages than in frogs and more abundant in the two ranid species than in C. ornata. These results contribute to our understanding of metamorphic changes in anuran skin. J. Morphol. 275:51–56, 2014. © 2013 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.