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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

Characterization of interdigital glands in the Asian elephant (Elephas maximus).

In the Asian elephant, wetness akin to perspiration is commonly observed on the cuticles and interdigital areas of the feet; this observation has lead to speculation regarding the existence of an interdigital gland. Our goal was to search for interdigital glands and characterise them morphologically, histochemically, and immunohistochemically. Necropsy samples of interdigital areas from two Asian elephants were obtained. Multiple sections were fixed and processed routinely, then stained with hematoxylin/eosin and differential mucin stains. Immunohistochemistry was also performed for cytokeratins 8 and 10. Interdigital glands resembling human eccrine glands were detected deep within the reticular dermis. Histochemical staining indicated neutral mucopolysaccharides and nonsulphated acid mucopolysaccharides in glandular secretions, and the glandular epithelium also showed immunoreactivity to cytokeratins 8 and 10. Both the histochemical and immunohistochemical staining patterns are analogous to human eccrine structures. This study shows with certainty that Asian elephants possess sweat glands as they are defined histologically.[1]


  1. Characterization of interdigital glands in the Asian elephant (Elephas maximus). Lamps, L.W., Smoller, B.R., Rasmussen, L.E., Slade, B.E., Fritsch, G., Goodwin, T.E. Res. Vet. Sci. (2001) [Pubmed]
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