Bilateral Chondrodysplasia, Tibiofibula, Osteodysplasia, Southern Leopard Frog


Much attention has been focused on limb malformations in anurans following the startling discovery of major limb deformities in Northern Leopard Frogs (Rana pipiens) in Minnesota in 1995. The numerous causes for these malformations can be attributed to a number of natural phenomena, or they can be considered as being manmade. In the present study, we report on a previously undescribed type of limb abnormality in a single individual of the Southern Leopard Frog (Lithobates sphenocephalus) from Arkansas. Histological examination of left tibiofibula revealed a complete disruption of the normal diaphyseal bone structure in this adult frog. The tibiofibula was separated into two poorly ossified and mostly fragmented bony shaft regions on opposite sides of the bone lesion. These peripheral segments of compact bone were surrounded by hypertrophic regions of hyaline cartilage intermingled with complexes of dysplastic bone. We observed three major polymorphic bone aggregates. The overall design of these osteogenic regions can best be described as an arachnoid-like patchwork of numerous pockets, channels, spaces, and nodules separated by trabeculae containing a matrix embedded with subperiosteal bone cells. At present, we are unaware of any environmental conditions that could account for the osteochondrous dysplasia in our specimen. Moreover, the remarkable bilateral placement of the 2 lesions in our specimen suggests the possibly of a genetic factor leading to a pairing of hindlimb developmental anomalies during embryonic bone growth in our specimen.

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