Pansteatitis associated with high levels of polychlorinated biphenyls in a wild loggerhead sea turtle Caretta caretta

Dis Aquat Organ. 2013 Feb 28;102(3):237-42. doi: 10.3354/dao02550.


We describe the morphologic and toxicological findings in a case of pansteatitis in a stranded loggerhead sea turtle Caretta caretta. At necropsy, a large amount of adipose tissue in the celomic cavity showing very firm, yellow to orange irregular formations was observed. Histological lesions ranged from the infiltration of necrotic fat by scarce multinucleated giant cells and numerous macrophages containing xylene-insoluble lipopigment inclusions to the presence of several granulomas characterized by an irregular central necrotic area consisting of lipopigment surrounded by numerous multinucleated giant cells. Microbiological cultures were negative. Celomic fat was analyzed for PCBs and DDTs, resulting in very high levels of PCB 138, 153, 180 209 (3170, 2830, 980 and 1190 ng g-1, respectively). Although a nutritional cause cannot be ruled out, the high levels of PCBs detected in the celomic fat could have induced lipid peroxidation in adipocytes, resulting in cell damage, deposition of ceroid pigment and inflammatory response. This is the first report of pansteatitis in a wild sea turtle.

Publication types

  • Case Reports

MeSH terms

  • Adipose Tissue / chemistry*
  • Animals
  • Animals, Wild
  • Fatal Outcome
  • Female
  • Polychlorinated Biphenyls / chemistry*
  • Steatitis / pathology*
  • Turtles*
  • Water Pollutants, Chemical / chemistry


  • Water Pollutants, Chemical
  • Polychlorinated Biphenyls