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Ultrastructural changes of the air-blood barrier in the lung of Rana esculenta during natural hibernation

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image of Amphibia-Reptilia

Possible changes of the air-blood barrier in naturally hibernating frogs were examined by transmission electron microscopy and measured with an eye-piece micrometer under light microscopy. During hibernation a reduction of the "alveolar" air-space and a folding of the air-blood barrier were noticed: the thickness of the latter in the deep lung septa was double that seen in the active phase, as a consequence of deeper changes of the interstitial and surface epithelial components. An increase in electron-dense multilamellar bodies inside the pneumocyte cytoplasm was also observed. These morphological characteristics are indicative of a hypofunctionality in the lung respiratory components and may be related to a decrease in oxygen consumption during this quiescent phase of the annual life cycle.

Affiliations: 1: Dipartmento di Biologia Animale, Università di Pavia e Centro di Studio per l'Istochimica del C.N.R., Piazza Botta 9-10, 1-27100 Pavia, Italy


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