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Prozac affects stickleback nest quality without altering androgen, spiggin or aggression levels during a 21-day breeding test
Cefas Weymouth Lab, Weymouth DT4 8UB, Dorset, England..
Cefas Weymouth Lab, Weymouth DT4 8UB, Dorset, England..
Cefas Weymouth Lab, Weymouth DT4 8UB, Dorset, England..
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Medicine and Pharmacy, Faculty of Medicine, Department of Neuroscience.
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2015 (English)In: Aquatic Toxicology, ISSN 0166-445X, E-ISSN 1879-1514, Vol. 168, 78-89 p.Article in journal (Refereed) PublishedText
Abstract [en]

Pharmaceuticals are increasingly being used in human and veterinary medicine, and their presence in the aquatic environment may present a threat to non-target aquatic organisms. The selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor fluoxetine (Prozac) has been reported to affect diverse behaviours (feeding, aggression, and reproduction) and also the endocrine system (steroid biosynthesis pathway) in fish. To investigate these claims further, and in particular effects on androgen synthesis, male three-spined sticklebacks (Gasterosteus aculeatus) were exposed to fluoxetine at 0, 3.2, 10 and 32 mu g/L in a flow-through system for 21 days. Their sex was determined prior to exposure using a non-invasive method to collect DNA for determining the genetic sex, reported here for the first time. This was necessary as the exposure required males of a non-breeding status which had not developed secondary characteristics. Post exposure a number of biochemical (serotonin, steroid and spiggin levels) and apical (aggressive behaviour) endpoints were measured. No effects were detected on morphometric parameters, spiggin or androgen (11-ketotestosterone) levels. However, all fluoxetine-exposed male fish had higher cortisol levels in comparison to the control fish, although this effect only persisted throughout the whole exposure duration at the highest concentration (32 mu g/L). In addition, the ratio of 5-HIAA/5-HT (serotonin metabolite/serotonin) was significantly lower in the brains of males exposed to fluoxetine at all concentrations tested. Although we found no differences in the number of nests built by the males, the quality of the nests produced by the fluoxetine-exposed males was generally inferior consisting only of a basic, rudimentary structure. Males exposed to 32 mu g/L of fluoxetine displayed a delayed response to a simulated threat (rival male via own mirror image) and were less aggressive (number of bites and attacks) toward their mirror image, but these differences were not statistically significant. In summary, fluoxetine exposure resulted in reduced serotonergic activity in the male three-spined stickleback brain suggesting that the mechanism of action between humans and fish is at least partially conserved. Furthermore, this study provided additional evidence of cross-talk between the serotonergic and stress axes as demonstrated by the perturbations in cortisol levels. This potentially complex interaction at brain level may be responsible for the effects observed on nest quality, an endpoint with serious ecological consequences for this species. Finally, despite our hypothesis (an effect on steroid biosynthesis, based on limited literature evidence), we observed no effects of fluoxetine exposure (at the concentrations and duration employed) on male stickleback androgen levels.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2015. Vol. 168, 78-89 p.
Keyword [en]
Gasterosteus aculeatus, Antidepressant, Serotonin, Steroids, Nest building, Aggression
National Category
Pharmacology and Toxicology Ecology
URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-268795DOI: 10.1016/j.aquatox.2015.09.009ISI: 000364436400009PubMedID: 26453812OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-268795DiVA: diva2:881120
Available from: 2015-12-09 Created: 2015-12-09 Last updated: 2015-12-09Bibliographically approved

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Winberg, Svante
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