Effects of both cold and heat stress on the liver of the giant spiny frog (Quasipaa spinosa): Stress response and histological changes

Ze Peng Liu, Wen Bin Gu, Dan Dan Tu, Qi Hui Zhu, Yi Lian Zhou, Cong Wang, Lan Zhi Wang, Miao An Shu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Citations (Scopus)


Ambient temperature-associated stress can affect normal physiological functions in ectotherms. To assess the effects of cold or heat stress on amphibians, giant spiny frogs (Quasipaa spinosa) were acclimated at 22°C followed by exposure to 5°C or 30°C for 0, 3, 6, 12, 24 and 48 h, respectively. Histological alterations, apoptotic index, generation of mitochondrial reactive oxygen species (ROS), antioxidant activity indices and stress-response gene expression in frog livers were subsequently determined. Results showed that many fat droplets appeared after 12 h of heat stress and the percentage of melanomacrophage centres significantly changed after 48 h at both stress conditions. Furthermore, the mitochondrial ROS levels were elevated in a time-dependent manner up to 6 h and 12 h in the cold and heat stress groups, respectively. The activities of superoxide dismutase, glutathione peroxidase and catalase were successively increased with increasing periods of cold or heat exposure, and their gene expression levels showed similar changes in both stress conditions. Most tested heat shock protein (HSP) genes were sensitive to temperature exposure, and the expression profiles of most apoptosis-related genes was significantly upregulated at 3 and 48 h under cold and heat stress, respectively. Apoptotic index at 48 h under cold stress was significantly higher than that under heat stress. Notably, lipid droplets, HSP30, HSP70 and HSP110 might be suitable bioindicators of heat stress. The results of these alterations at physiological, biochemical and molecular levels might contribute to a better understanding of the stress response of Q. spinosa, and perhaps amphibians more generally, under thermal stress.

Original languageEnglish
Article numberjeb186379
JournalJournal of Experimental Biology
Issue number21
Publication statusPublished - 2018 Nov
Externally publishedYes


  • Amphibian
  • Apoptosis
  • Histological alterations
  • Oxidative stress
  • Stress response gene
  • Thermal stress

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Physiology
  • Aquatic Science
  • Animal Science and Zoology
  • Molecular Biology
  • Insect Science


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