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Tricyclic antidepressants suppress spawning and fertilization in the zebra mussel, Dreissena polymorpha.

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  • 1Department of Physiology, Wayne State University, Detroit, MI 48201, USA.


Tricyclic antidepressants (TCAs), which are psychotropic drugs that work in vertebrates by interfering with serotonergic mechanisms, were tested for their effects on the serotonin-elicited spawning behavior of the zebra mussel, Dreissena polymorpha. Exposure of mussels to 10(-4) M imipramine or desipramine for 2 hr prior to serotonin treatment inhibited spawning in male, but not female, zebra mussels (p < 0.05). Clomipramine (10(-4) M) inhibited spawning of both sexes (p < 0.01). Inhibition of spawning was more effective with 2 hr preexposure time than with shorter times (p < 0.0001). Oocytes released in the presence of TCAs had a normal appearance, with no germinal vesicle present; however, fertilization and embryonic development were adversely affected in oocytes released into TCA concentrations as low as 10(-6) M. Oocytes fertilized after TCA treatment rarely developed normally. This is the first report of an inhibitory effect of TCAs on spawning, fertilization, and early embryonic development in any animal. The concentrations that affect embryonic development in zebra mussels are in the same range as therapeutic plasma concentrations in humans.

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