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Transformation Products of Fluoxetine Formed by Photodegradation in Water and Biodegradation in Zebrafish Embryos (Danio rerio)

Selina Tisler, Florian Zindler, Finnian Freeling, Karsten Nödler, László Toelgyesi, Thomas Braunbeck, Christian Zwiener
Environmental science & technology 2019 v.53 no.13 pp. 7400-7409
Danio rerio, aldehydes, antidepressants, bioaccumulation factor, biodegradation, ecotoxicology, electrospray ionization mass spectrometry, environmental science, fluoxetine, freshwater, hydrolysis, hydroxylation, metabolism, metabolites, moieties, pH, photolysis, solar radiation, surface water, technology
The present study investigates the transformation of the antidepressant fluoxetine (FLX) by photo- and biodegradation and shows similarities and differences in transformation products (TPs). TPs were identified using LC–high-resolution mass spectrometry with positive and negative electrospray ionization. In a sunlight simulator, photodegradation was carried out using ultrapure water (pH 6, 8, and 10) and surface water (pH 8) to study the effect of direct and indirect photolysis, respectively. The well-known metabolite norfluoxetine (NFLX) proved to be a minor TP in photolysis (≤2% of degraded FLX). In addition, 26 TPs were detected, which were formed by cleavage of the phenolether bond (O-dealkylation) which primarily formed 3-(methylamino)-1-phenyl-1-propanol (TP 166) and 4-(trifluoromethyl)phenol, by hydroxylation of the benzyl moiety, by CF₃ substitution to benzoic aldehyde/acid, and by adduct formation at the amine group (N-acylation with aldehydes and carboxylic acids). Higher pH favors the neutral species of FLX and the neutral/anionic species of primary TPs and, therefore, photodegradation. In zebrafish embryos, the bioconcentration factor of FLX was found to be 110, and about 1% of FLX taken up by the embryos was transformed to NFLX. Seven metabolites known from photodegradation and formed by hydrolysis, hydroxylation, and N-acylation as well as three new metabolites formed by N-hydroxylation, N-methylation, and attachment of an amine group were identified in zebrafish embryos. The study highlights the importance of considering a broad range of TPs of FLX in fresh water systems and in ecotoxicity tests and to include TP formation in both environmental processes and metabolism in organisms.