Archives of environmental contamination and toxicology

A candidate short-term toxicity test using Ampelisca brevicornis to assess sublethal responses to pharmaceuticals bound to marine sediments.

PMID 25227176


Lethal and sublethal responses related to different phases of metabolism (phases I and II enzymatic activities), neurotoxicity (acetylcholinesterase activity), oxidative stress (lipid peroxidation and antioxidant enzyme activities), and genetic damage (DNA strand breaks) were analysed to assess the possible adverse effects of pharmaceuticals bound to marine sediments. The crustacean amphipod Ampelisca brevicornis was chosen as the bioindicator species. Organisms were exposed for 10 days to sediment spiked with pharmaceutical compounds frequently used and previously detected in the environment: carbamazepine (CBZ), ibuprofen (IBP), fluoxetine (FX), 17α-ethynylestradiol (EE2), propranolol (PRO), and caffeine (CAF). Short-term bioassay to evaluate amphipod mortality was recommended to assess pollution by CBZ, FX, and PRO. IBP and PRO were metabolized by phases I and II detoxification enzymatic activities. Oxidative stress was caused by PRO and CAF. Contrary to expected results, DNA damage (strand breaks) decreased after the exposure of amphipods to sediment spiked with IBP, FX, EE2, PRO, and CAF (including environmental concentrations). FX was neurotoxic to amphipods. The battery of biomarkers tested allowed the assessment of bioavailability, oxidative stress, genotoxicity, and neurotoxicity of the pharmaceuticals analysed. The results of this study suggested that pharmaceutical products at concentrations currently found in the environment might cause a wide variety of adverse effects (based on laboratory studies). The results obtained here are useful for environmental risk assessment of marine sediments contaminated by pharmaceuticals. Nevertheless, more research is needed using field-based marine sediments.