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Histol Histopathol. 1997 Jan;12(1):147-70.

The phylogenetic odyssey of the erythrocyte. IV. The amphibians.

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State University of New York at Buffalo, Department of Anatomy and Cell Biology, School of Medicine 14214, USA.


Amphibians manifest permanently nucleated, oval, flattened, biconvex erythrocytes. These cells demonstrate a cytoskeleton which is responsible for their morphogenetic conversion from a sphere to an ellipse and imparts to their cellular mass reversibility of traumatic deformation. The class Amphibia has the largest of all erythrocytes attaining volumes greater than 10,000 femtoliters in the Amphiuma. The large dimensions reflect evolutionary processes, genomic size, ploidy and the relative size of other somatic cells. Conversely, the erythrocyte count and hemoglobin concentration of these species are low. Occasional denucleated red cells can be seen in the peripheral blood but may attain levels of 90-95% of the total circulating population in certain members of the tribe Bolitoglossini (e.g. Batrachoseps attenuatus). These erythroplastids retain the marginal band thus remaining different from mammalian erythrocytes. Embryologically, erythropoiesis initiates in the yolk sac and then progresses to the kidney, liver, and possibly spleen. The yolk sac cohort is transitory and is successively replaced by the larval and definitive populations of erythrocytes. Red cell production (along with thrombocytopoiesis) in adult urodeles is conducted intravascularly in the spleen. In anurans this organ is usually the major site although the liver also serves as a secondary locus for this activity. Medullary (bone marrow) erythropoiesis makes its phylogenetic debut in anurans and typically occurs during heightened hemopoiesis following metamorphosis or hibernation. Maturation of the erythrocyte in the circulation is commonplace (especially in urodeles) while proliferation at this site is inducible by splenectomy and/or hemolysins. Erythrocyte-related values demonstrate variable differences associated with age, weight, season, gender, and environment.

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