Does fluoxetine exposure affect hypoxia tolerance in the Gulf toadfish, Opsanus beta?

Molly H.B. Amador, Kevin L. Schauer, M. Danielle McDonald

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Due to ineffective wastewater treatment technologies, pharmaceuticals such as the selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs)—a common class of antidepressants which inhibit the serotonin transporter (SERT)—can be found in surface waters and marine receiving waters near wastewater effluents. Understanding how exposure to these chemicals might impact non-target organisms, especially combined with other environmental stressors like hypoxia, is essential in order to thoroughly evaluate environmental risk. It was hypothesized that both acute and chronic exposure to the SSRI fluoxetine (FLX) would interfere with the metabolic hypoxia response of the Gulf toadfish, Opsanus beta. Here we demonstrate that acute intraperitoneal treatment with 50 μg g−1 FLX significantly reduces the regulation index, or degree of metabolic regulation, in toadfish. Acute FLX exposure significantly reduced SERT mRNA expression in the first and third gill arches, but mRNA expression was not affected in heart tissues or in the second gill arch. In contrast, the regulation index was unaffected by 14–17 day waterborne FLX exposure to environmentally relevant (0.01 μg L−1) and approximately 1000-fold higher (8.5 μg L−1) concentrations. However, the higher concentration was sufficient to induce a systemic elevation in plasma serotonin concentrations. Chronic FLX exposure did not alter SERT mRNA expression in heart or gill tissues. The results of this study implicate the involvement of 5-HT pathways in hypoxia tolerance but demonstrate that current environmental levels of FLX are insufficient to impair the metabolic hypoxia response in marine fish.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)55-64
Number of pages10
JournalAquatic Toxicology
StatePublished - Jun 2018


  • Hypoxia
  • Pharmaceuticals
  • Regulation index
  • Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI)
  • Serotonin transporter (SERT)
  • Waterborne

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Aquatic Science
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis


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