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Comp Biochem Physiol C Toxicol Pharmacol. 2006 Jan-Feb;142(1-2):30-5. Epub 2005 Nov 9.

Chronic incidental lead ingestion in a group of captive-reared alligators (Alligator mississippiensis): possible contribution to reproductive failure.

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  • 1Graduate School of Public Health, San Diego State University, CA 92182-4162, USA. lvalenti@sunstroke.sdsu.edu

Abstract

An American alligator (Alligator mississippiensis) breeding facility using male and female alligators raised from artificially incubated eggs was established in 1975. These alligators first reproduced at 6 years of age as compared to 10-12 years in wild alligators, but the eggs produced showed a lower hatching rate than those collected from the wild. By age 21 reproduction had failed almost completely. The alligators were sacrificed and tissues collected at necropsy from 44 captive and 15 wild animals and assayed for metals. Results showed that captive alligators had significantly higher tissue levels of lead than wild alligators. Cadmium did not differ between wild and captive and selenium was 50% higher in wild than captive alligator kidneys. Bone lead in captive alligators was 252,443 +/- 20,462 ng/g. High yolk lead was suggested as a probable cause for early embryonic death in alligator eggs. The high tissue lead levels in captive alligators was attributed to long-term consumption of nutria (Myocastor coypus) meat contaminated with lead shot. Liver, ovary, and testis were assayed for lipid peroxidation using the thiobarbituric acid (TBA) test. Captive alligators had 3.6 fold increased TBA-reactive materials in the liver tissue compared to wild. Lipid peroxidation was strongly suspected as having been enhanced by consumption of rancid nutria meat containing lead.

PMID:
16290046
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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