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Cryobiology. 1992 Oct;29(5):616-31.

Hibernation alters the frog's immune system.

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  • 1Department of Anatomy and Cell Biology, UCLA Medical Center 90024-1763.


The lymphomyeloid organs and blood leukocyte populations of the leopard frog, Rana pipiens, undergo conspicuous changes during hibernation at 4 degrees C. Within the blood, spleen, thymus, jugular bodies, and bone marrow there was a progressive loss of hemopoietic populations resulting in a marked lymphocyte depletion. Termination of the 135-day hibernation period resulted in the restoration of all hemopoietic elements in the blood and lymphomyeloid organs within 30 days. Frogs subjected to experimental hibernation and immunized showed weakened immune responses when brought from the hibernaculum. Plaque-forming cells (PFC) were lower in spleen, jugular bodies, and bone marrow, and serum antibody titers were also lower. Although the kinetics of the primary responses were essentially the same, the secondary responses differed suggesting major rearrangements with respect to the numbers of cells and their function in secreting antibody. The apparent lymphocyte aplasia may contribute to the absence of immunological responsiveness during periods of hibernation.

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