Metal contamination as a possible etiology of fibropapillomatosis in juvenile female green sea turtles Chelonia mydas from the southern Atlantic Ocean Academic Article uri icon

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  • Environmental contaminants have been suggested as a possible cause of fibropapillomatosis (FP) in green sea turtles. In turn, a reduced concentration of serum cholesterol has been indicated as a reliable biomarker of malignancy in vertebrates, including marine turtles. In the present study, metal (Ag, Cd, Cu, Fe, Ni, Pb and Zn) concentrations, oxidative stress parameters [antioxidant capacity against peroxyl radicals (ACAP), protein carbonyls (PC), lipid peroxidation (LPO), frequency of micronucleated cells (FMC)], water content, cholesterol concentration and 3-hydroxy-3-methylglutaryl-CoA reductase (HMGR) activity were analyzed in the blood/serum of juvenile (29.3-59.5cm) female green sea turtles (Chelonia mydas) with FP (n=14) and without FP (n=13) sampled at Ubatuba coast (São Paulo State, southeastern Brazil). Green sea turtles were grouped and analyzed according to the severity of tumors. Individuals heavily afflicted with FP showed significantly higher blood Cu, Pb and Fe concentrations, blood LPO levels, as well as significantly lower serum cholesterol concentrations and HMGR activity than turtles without FP. Significant and positive correlations were observed between HMGR activity and cholesterol concentrations, as well as LPO levels and Fe and Pb concentrations. In turn, Cu and Pb concentrations were significantly and negatively correlated with HMGR activity and cholesterol concentration. Furthermore, Cu, Fe and Pb were positively correlated with each other. Therefore, the reduced concentration of serum cholesterol observed in green sea turtles heavily afflicted with FP is related to a Cu- and Pb-induced inhibition of HMGR activity paralleled by a higher LPO rate induced by increased Fe and Pb concentrations. As oxidative stress is implicated in the pathogenesis of viral infections, our findings support the idea that metal contamination, especially by Cu, Fe and Pb, may be implicated in the etiology of FP in green sea turtles through oxidative stress generation.


  • da Silva, Cinthia Carneiro
  • Klein, Roberta Daniele
  • Barcarolli, Indianara Fernanda
  • Bianchini, Adalto

publication date

  • January 2016