To evaluate the association between corneal lipid infiltration (corneal arcus) and dietary cholesterol in Cuban tree frogs (Osteopilus septentrionalis), 47 wild-caught frogs were fed diets of either regular or high-cholesterol crickets containing 0.7% and 1.7% cholesterol dry matter, respectively. Serum total cholesterol and triglycerides were measured when the frogs were euthanized after 17 mo. In a subsample of frogs, serum lipoproteins were characterized using high-performance liquid chromatography. The first case of corneal lipid deposition occurred in a female frog after 13 mo on the high-cholesterol diet. In the subsequent 4 mo, 5/11 males and 11/35 females developed the disease. Four of these affected frogs were females on the regular diet. Frogs with corneal lipid deposition had elevated serum total cholesterol (27.3 ± 19.8 mmol/L) and low-density lipoproteins (LDL, 17.8 ± 18.9 mmol/L) compared with unaffected captive frogs (16.5 ± 20.4 and 9.0 ± 7.6 mmol/L, respectively). Corneal lipid deposition was more prevalent in frogs on the high-cholesterol diet, and this group had higher serum total cholesterol (34.1 ± 15.2 mmol/L in females, 22.8 ± 14.8 mmol/L in males) than did frogs on the diet of regular crickets (12.3 ± 8.7 mmol/L in females, 10.4 ± 3.1 mmol/L in males). Captive frogs on both diets had higher serum total cholesterol than did wild frogs (3.1 ± 2.1 mmol/L in females, 5.3 ± 2.6 mmol/L in males). This additional serum cholesterol was primarily carried on very low-density lipoproteins (VLDL) and LDL rather than high-density lipoproteins (HDL), as indicated by the significantly higher ratio of VLDL cholesterol and LDL cholesterol over HDL cholesterol in captive frogs compared with wild frogs. Elevation in this ratio was significantly higher in captive females than in captive males. There was no evidence that increased serum cholesterol in captive females was directly related to the process of vitellogenesis.
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Vol. 32 • No. 3