Structural changes and epidermal dynamics of the toad, Bufo bufo, were followed during 14 days after ablation of the pars distalis of the pituitary gland by taking skin biopsies 2, 17, 24, 40 and 65 hours, and 7 and 14 days after the operation.
The rate of differentiation of new cornified layers was moderately increased during the first week, and highly increased during the second week after removal of the pars distalis. The keratinization process became gradually abnormal with regard to initial keratinization (formation of a peripheral dense band) as well as to final keratinization (laydown of an interfibrillar dense matrix). The structural manifestations of the keratinization process after pars distalis ablation are discussed in relation to those of intact toads.
By counting the number of cells in the different “compartments” of the epidermis, it is shown that the total number of cells per length or square unit of stratum corneum remained constant in spite of at least five layers of stratum corneum being produced in a 14-day period during which intact toads would have produced only one or two corneal layers. This shows that cell production can keep up with the increased rate of formation of corneal layers for at least 14 days after removal of the pars distalis, and consequently the rate of cell divisions must have increased.
It was further shown that the ratio between the number of cells in the stratum germinativum and in the stratum intermedium was decreased, which is discussed in relation to epidermal dynamics.
In Merkel cells, the number of granules increased, and eventually the granules became included within lysosome-like bodies, indicating a secretory function of these cells. The findings are discussed in relation to the knowledge of mammalian Merkel cell structure and function.
No significant change was observed in the flask cells.
The control of amphibian epidermal proliferation, differentiation and moulting is discussed. It is concluded that these processes should be considered separately since they may not necessarily be coupled to one another and probably are differently controlled.