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Environ Toxicol Chem. 2009 Dec;28(12):2677-84. doi: 10.1897/08-556.1. Epub 2009 Apr 30.

Antidepressants at environmentally relevant concentrations affect predator avoidance behavior of larval fathead minnows (Pimephales promelas).

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Aquatic Toxicology Laboratory, Saint Cloud State University, Saint Cloud, MN 56301, USA.


The effects of embryonic and larval exposure to environmentally relevant (ng/L) concentrations of common antidepressants, fluoxetine, sertraline, venlafaxine, and bupropion (singularly and in mixture) on C-start escape behavior were evaluated in fathead minnows (Pimephales promelas). Embryos (postfertilization until hatching) were exposed for 5 d and, after hatching, were allowed to grow in control well water until 12 d old. Similarly, posthatch fathead minnows were exposed for 12 d to these compounds. High-speed (1,000 frames/s) video recordings of escape behavior were collected and transferred to National Institutes of Health Image for frame-by-frame analysis of latency periods, escape velocities, and total escape response (combination of latency period and escape velocity). When tested 12 d posthatch, fluoxetine and venlafaxine adversely affected C-start performance of larvae exposed as embryos. Conversely, larvae exposed for 12 d posthatch did not exhibit altered escape responses when exposed to fluoxetine but were affected by venlafaxine and bupropion exposure. Mixtures of these four antidepressant pharmaceuticals slowed predator avoidance behaviors in larval fathead minnows regardless of the exposure window. The direct impact of reduced C-start performance on survival and, ultimately, reproductive fitness provides an avenue to assess the ecological relevance of exposure in an assay of relatively short duration.

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