Morphological and histological structure of the interdigital gland in Awassi sheep (Ovis aries)


Abstract: We investigated the effects of sex and breeding season on the morphological and histological structures of the interdigital gland in Awassi sheep (Ovis aries). Forelimbs and hind limbs were collected from 10 males and 10 females in both the breeding (June-July) and nonbreeding (November-December) seasons. The interdigital glands were located between the first and second phalanxes and were present on all of the limbs. The mean weight of the gland was 1.03 ± 0.03 g. Mean body length, body thickness, duct length, duct diameter, and duct opening diameter were 17.42 ± 0.23 mm, 8.12 ± 0.08 mm, 26.81 ± 0.31 mm, 4.65 ± 0.05 mm, and 3.53 ± 0.03 mm, respectively. All of the parameters had higher values in males than in females. In the breeding season, values were generally higher than those in the nonbreeding season. Gland secretions were pink and necrotic cell debris was observed in the gland lumen. The morphometric and histological data from this study indicate that the structure of the interdigital gland in Awassi sheep is similar to that in other sheep breeds. The results also suggest that this gland may play a role in sexual communication in sheep.

Keywords: Anatomy, Awassi sheep, breeding, histology, interdigital gland

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