Water content, body weight and acid mucopolysaccharides, hyaluronidase and B-glucuronidae in response to aestivation in Australian desert frogs

Document Type

Journal Article


Elsevier Science


Faculty of Business and Public Management


School of Marketing, Tourism and Leisure




Bayomy, M. F. F., Shalan, A. G., Bradshaw, S. D., Withers, P. C., Stewart, T., & Thompson, G. (2002). Water content, body weight and acid mucopolysaccharides, hyaluronidase and β-glucuronidase in response to aestivation in Australian desert frogs. Comparative Biochemistry and Physiology Part A: Molecular & Integrative Physiology, 131(4), 881-892. Available here


This study investigates the effects of aestivation on body water content, body mass, acid mucopolysaccharide (AMPS) and some of its degrading enzymes in different tissues for some Australian desert frogs. The AMPS component of the liver, kidney, skin and cocoon alter during aestivation to help retain water, which is unchanged in most tissues of all frog species, and to protect the frogs from desiccation during extended periods of aestivation. Hepatic AMPS was unaltered in Cyclorana maini, C. platycephala and Neobatrachus sutor but increased significantly after 2 months of aestivation in C. australis. The level of AMPS in the kidney was elevated in all four frog species after 5 months of aestivation. Skin AMPS content in the skin of awake frogs decreases with aestivation period and increases in the cocoon. AMPS in the cocoon probably works as a cement between the cocoons’ layers and its physical presence presumably contributes to preventing water flux. Changes in AMPS content in different tissues were accompanied by significant changes in both hyaluronidase and β-glucuronidase activities, which play an important role in AMPS metabolism. Alcian blue staining of control and digested skin of C. australis and C. platycephala with testicular hyaluronidase indicated the presence of AMPS, concentrated in a thin layer (called ground substance, GS) located between stratum compactum and stratum spongiosum, and acid mucin concentrated in the mucous glands and in a ‘tubular’ structure which could be observed in the epidermal layer. Hyaluronidase digestion of the cocoon slightly changed the Alcian Blue colour, suggesting the presence of a large amount of acid mucin similar to that found in the skin mucous gland. The results of this study present data for the redistribution of AMPS, which may help in reducing water loss across the cocoon and reabsorption of water in the kidney during aestivation.





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