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Comp Biochem Physiol C Toxicol Pharmacol. 2013 Nov;158(4):216-24. doi: 10.1016/j.cbpc.2013.08.005. Epub 2013 Sep 9.

Effect of pharmaceuticals exposure on acetylcholinesterase (AchE) activity and on the expression of AchE gene in the monogonont rotifer, Brachionus koreanus.

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Research Institute for Natural Sciences, Hanyang University, Seoul 133-791, South Korea.


Pharmaceuticals are widely used in human and veterinary medicine. However, they are emerging as a significant contaminant in aquatic environments through wastewater. Due to the persistent and accumulated properties of pharmaceuticals via the food web, their potential harmful effects on aquatic animals are a great concern. In this study, we investigated the effects of six pharmaceuticals: acetaminophen, ATP; atenolol, ATN; carbamazepine, CBZ; oxytetracycline, OTC; sulfamethoxazole, SMX; and trimethoprim, TMP on acetylcholinesterase (AChE; EC activity and its transcript expression with chlorpyrifos (as a positive control) in the monogonont rotifer, Brachionus koreanus. ATP, CBZ, and TMP exposure also remarkably inhibited Bk-AChE activity at 100 μg/L (24 h) and 1000 μg/L (12 h and 24 h). ATP, CBZ, and TMP exposure showed a significant decrease in the Bk-AChE mRNA level in a concentration-dependent manner. However, in the case of OTC and SMX, a slight decrease in Bk-AChE mRNA expression was found but only at the highest concentration. The time-course experiments showed that ATP positively induced Bk-AChE mRNA 12 h after exposure at both 100 and 1000 μg/L, while the Bk-AChE mRNA expression was significantly downregulated over 6 to 24 h after exposure to 1000 μg/L of CBZ, OTC, SMX, and TMP. Our findings suggest that Bk-AChE would be a useful biomarker for risk assessment of pharmaceutical compounds as an early signal of their toxicity in aquatic environments. Particularly, ATP, CBZ, and TMP may have a toxic cholinergic effect on rotifer B. koreanus by inhibiting AChE activity.


Acetylcholinesterase; AchE; Antibiotics; Brachionus koreanus; Pharmaceutical; Rotifer

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