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Turtle sex determination assay: Mass balance and responses to 2,3,7,8-tetrachlorodibenzo-p-dioxin and 3,3',4,4',5-pentachlorobiphenyl

January 1, 2002

Polyhalogenated hydrocarbons have been implicated in the anomalous sexual differentiation of mammals and reptiles. Here, a temperature-sensitive turtle sex determination assay using the red-eared slider (Trachemys scripta elegans) was used to determine the estrogenic or antiestrogenic activity of 2,3,7,8-tetrachlorodibenzo-p-dioxin (TCDD) and 3,3′,4,4′,5-pentachlorobiphenyl (PCB-126). Neither TCDD nor PCB-126 showed a statistically significant difference in the resulting sex ratios (Fisher's exact test, p < 0.45). As a consequence of the dosing technique (eggshell spotting), the shell retained 90 and 96% of the dose for PCB-126 and TCDD, respectively, similar to retention of estradiol-17β. However, the dosing allowed transfer of sufficient chemical to achieve tissue concentrations that were greater than most concentrations reported for environmentally incurred residues. Similar relative mass distributions of PCB-126 and TCDD were observed in albumin (14–20%), yolk (55–70%), and embryo (16–25%). Relative concentration distributions in the embryo approached those in the yolk, 37 to 40% and 40 to 52%, respectively, while relative concentrations in the albumin remained at 11 to 20%. Lipid-normalized TCDD and PCB-126 concentrations were 30- to 40-fold greater in the embryo than in the yolk. It is hypothesized that nonpassive partitioning processes may have occurred in the embryo.