Previously, we reported that wild eastern box turtles (Terrapene carolina carolina) with aural abscesses contained higher body burdens of organochlorine (OC) compounds than those without the lesion. This lesion in captive chelonians is associated with turtles that are fed diets deficient in vitamin A. To examine the pathophysiology of this lesion and evaluate the relationship between OC burdens and vitamin A metabolism, we maintained red-eared sliders (Trachemys scripta elegans) under different conditions of OC exposure and dietary vitamin A concentrations from August 2005 to February 2006. Dietary vitamin A concentration (0 or 5 international units/g in the diet) and OC exposure (no OC compound or the mixture of 2 mg/kg chlordane, 0.25 mg/kg aroclor, and 1 mg/kg lindane) did not affect histologic score based on degree of squamous metaplasia of the tympanic epithelium or levels of plasma or liver vitamin A among the study groups. The results of this study suggest that 6 mo of exposure to the selected OC compounds, or similar duration of reduced dietary vitamin A concentrations do not influence the formation of squamous metaplasia and aural abscesses in red-eared sliders. Further studies are required to determine whether the duration of the experiment was insufficient, the OC compounds selected were inappropriate, the dosing was incorrect, and whether there are other unknown mechanisms causing the reported association between OC exposure and aural abscesses seen in eastern box turtles.
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Vol. 44 • No. 3