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Environ Sci Technol. 2014 Sep 2;48(17):10439-47. doi: 10.1021/es502539g. Epub 2014 Aug 15.

Effects of acute exposure to the non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug ibuprofen on the developing North American Bullfrog (Rana catesbeiana) tadpole.

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Department of Biochemistry & Microbiology, University of Victoria , P.O. Box 3055 Stn CSC, Victoria, British Columbia, Canada V8W 3P6.


A variety of pharmaceutical chemicals can represent constituents of municipal effluent outflows that are dispersed into aquatic receiving environments worldwide. Increasingly, there is concern as to the potential of such bioactive substances to interact with wildlife species at sensitive life stages and affect their biology. Using a combination of DNA microarray, quantitative real-time polymerase chain reaction, and quantitative nuclease protection assays, we assessed the ability of sub-lethal and environmentally relevant concentrations of ibuprofen (IBF), a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory agent and prevalent environmental contaminant, to function as a disruptor of endocrine-mediated post-embryonic development of the frog. While the LC50 of IBF for pre-metamorphic Rana catesbeiana tadpoles is 41.5 mg/L (95% confidence interval: 32.3-53.5 mg/L), exposure to concentrations in the ppb range elicited molecular responses both in vivo and in organ culture. A nominal concentration of 15 μg/L IBF (actual = 13.7 μg/L) altered the abundance of 26 mRNA transcripts within the liver of exposed pre-metamorphic R. catesbeiana tadpoles within 6 d. IBF-treated animals demonstrated subsequent disruption of thyroid hormone-mediated reprogramming in the liver transcriptome affecting constituents of several metabolic, developmental, and signaling pathways. Cultured tadpole tail fin treated with IBF for 48 h also demonstrated altered mRNA levels at drug concentrations as low as 1.5 μg/L. These observations raise the possibility that IBF may alter the post-embryonic development of anuran species in freshwater environs, where IBF is a persistent or seasonal pollutant.

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