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Aquat Toxicol September 1, 2022; 250 106244.
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Environmental concentrations of a delorazepam-based drug impact on embryonic development of non-target Xenopus laevis.

Fogliano C , Motta CM , Venditti P , Fasciolo G , Napolitano G , Avallone B , Carotenuto R .

Benzodiazepines, psychotropics drugs used for treating sleep disorders, anxiety and epilepsy, represent a major class of emerging water pollutants. As occurs for other pharmaceutical residues, they are not efficiently degraded during sewage treatment and persist in effluent waters. Bioaccumulation is already reported in fish and small crustaceans, but the impact and consequences on other "non-target" aquatic species are still unclear and nowadays of great interest. In this study, we investigated the effects of a pharmaceutical preparation containing the benzodiazepine delorazepam on the embryogenesis of Xenopus laevis, amphibian model species, taxa at high risk of exposure to water contaminants. Environmental (1 μg/L) and two higher (5 and 10 μg/L) concentrations were tested on tadpoles up to stage 45/46. Results demonstrate that delorazepam interferes with embryo development and that the effects are prevalently dose-dependent. Delorazepam reduces vitality by decreasing heart rate and motility, induces marked cephalic and abdominal edema, as well as intestinal and retinal defects. At the molecular level, delorazepam increases ROS production, modifies the expression of some master developmental genes and pro-inflammatory cytokines. The resulting stress condition significantly affects embryos'' development and threatens their survival. Similar effects should be expected as well in embryos belonging to other aquatic species that have not been yet considered targets for these pharmaceutical residues.

PubMed ID: 35878487
Article link: Aquat Toxicol

Species referenced: Xenopus laevis