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Chronic effects assessment and plasma concentrations of the β-blocker propranolol in fathead minnows (Pimephales promelas)

Giltrow, Emma, Eccles, Paul D., Winter, Matthew J., McCormack, Paul J., Rand-Weaver, Mariann, Hutchinson, Thomas H., Sumpter, John P.
Aquatic toxicology 2009 v.95 no.3 pp. 195-202
water pollution, drugs, propranolol, toxicity testing, minnows, Pimephales promelas, mortality, hatching, animal growth, blood plasma
The presence of many human pharmaceuticals in the aquatic environment is now a worldwide concern, yet little is known of the chronic effects that these bioactive substances may be having on aquatic organisms. Propranolol, a non-specific beta adrenoreceptor blocker (β-blocker), is used to treat high blood pressure and heart disease in humans. Propranolol has been found in surface waters worldwide at concentrations ranging from 12 to 590ng/L. To test the potential for ecologically relevant effects in fish in receiving waters, short-term (21 days) adult reproduction studies were conducted, in which fathead minnows were exposed to nominal concentrations of propranolol hydrochloride [CAS number 318-98-9] ranging from 0.001 to 10mg/L (measured concentrations typically from 78 to 130%). Exposure of fish to 3.4mg/L (measured) over 3 days caused 100% mortality or severe toxicity requiring euthanasia. The most sensitive endpoints from the studies were a decrease in hatchability (with regard to the number of days to hatch) and a concentration-related increase in female gonadal somatic index (GSI), giving LOEChatchability and LOECfemale GSI values of 0.1mg/L. Concentration-related decreases in weights of male fish were also observed, with LOECmale wet weight value of 1.0mg/L, and the LOECreproduction value was 1.0mg/L. Collectively, these data do not suggest that propranolol was acting as a reproductive toxin. Plasma concentrations of propranolol in male fish exposed to nominal concentrations of 0.1 and 1.0mg/L were 0.34 and 15.00mg/L, respectively, which constitutes 436 and 1546% of measured water concentrations. These compare with predicted concentrations of 0.07 and 0.84mg/L, and thus to a degree support the use of partition coefficient models for predicting concentrations in plasma in fish. In addition, propranolol plasma concentrations in fish exposed to water concentrations of 0.1 and 1.0mg/L were greater than the human therapeutic plasma concentration and hence these data very strongly support the fish plasma model proposed by Huggett et al. [Huggett, D.B., Cook, J.C., Ericson, J.F., Williams, R.T., 2003a. A theoretical model for utilizing mammalian pharmacology and safety data to prioritize potential impacts of human pharmaceuticals to fish. Hum. Ecol. Risk Assess. 9, 1789-1799].