Histochemical and Ultrastructural Analyses of Adhesive Setae of Lizards Indicate that They Contain Lipids in Addition to Keratins

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Publication Date

Summer 6-2011


ABSTRACT We studied the distribution of lipid material and organelles in the epidermal layers of toe pads from two species of lizards representing the two main lizard families in which adhesive scansors are found (gekkonids and polychrotids), the dull day gecko, Phelsuma dubia and the green anole, Anolis carolinensis. Although lipids are a conspicuous component of the mesos layer of squamate reptiles and function in reducing cutaneous water loss, their distribution has not been specifically studied in the highly elaborated epidermal surface of adhesive toe pads. We found that, in addition to the typical cutaneous water loss-resistant mesos and alpha-layer lipids, the Oberha¨utchen (including the setae) on the most exterior layers of the epidermis in P. dubia and A. carolinensis also contain lipid material. We also present detailed histochemical and ultrastructural analyses of the toe pads of P. dubia, which indicate that lipid material is closely associated spatially with maturing setae as they branch during the renewal phase of epidermal regeneration. This lipid material appears associated with the packing of keratin within setae, possibly affecting permeability to water loss in the pad lamella, where the surface area is from 4–60-fold greater compared with normal scales. J. Morphol. 272:758–768, 2011.

Publication Title

Journal of Morphology





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