Low submetamorphic doses of dexamethasone and thyroxine induce complete metamorphosis in the axolotl (Ambystoma mexicanum) when injected together Academic Article uri icon


  • Entanglement of functions between the adrenal (or interrenal) and thyroid axis has been well described for all vertebrates and can be tracked down up to the level of gene expression. Both thyroid hormones and corticosteroids may induce morphological changes leading to metamorphosis climax in the neotenic Mexican axolotl (Ambystoma mexicanum). In a first series of experiments, metamorphosis was induced with an injection of 25 microg T(4) on three alternate days as judged by a decrease in body weight and tail height together with complete gill resorption. This injection also resulted in elevated plasma concentrations of T(3) and corticosterone. Previous results have indicated that the same dose of dexamethasone (DEX) is ineffective in this regard (Gen. Comp. Endocrinol. 127 (2002) 157). In a second series of experiments low doses of T(4) (0.5 microg) or DEX (5 microg) were ineffective to induce morphological changes. However, when these submetamorphic doses were injected together, morphological changes were observed within one week leading to complete metamorphosis. It is concluded that thyroid hormones combined with corticosteroids are essential for metamorphosis in the axolotl and that only high doses of either thyroid hormone or corticosteroid can induce morphological changes when injected separately.


  • De Groef, Bert
  • Kühn, Eduard R
  • Groef, Bert De
  • Grommen, Sylvia VH
  • Geyten, Serge Van der
  • Darras, Veerle M

publication date

  • June 2004