Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) represent a class of pharmaceuticals previously reported in aquatic ecosystems. SSRIs are designed to treat depression and other disorders in humans, but are recognized to elicit a variety of effects on aquatic organisms, ranging from neuroendocrine disruption to behavioral perturbations. However, an understanding of the relationships among mechanistic responses associated with SSRI targets and ecologically important behavioral responses of fish remains elusive. Herein, linking Adverse Outcomes Pathways (AOP) models with internal dosimetry represent potential approaches for developing an understanding of pharmaceutical risks to aquatic life. We selected sertraline as a model SSRI for a 28-d study with adult male fathead minnows. Binding activity of the serotonin reuptake transporter (SERT), previously demonstrated in mammals and fish models to respond to sertraline exposure, was selected as an endpoint associated with therapeutic activity. Shelter-seeking behavior was monitored using digital tracking software to diagnose behavioral abnormalities. Fish plasma levels of sertraline exceeding human therapeutic doses were accurately modeled from external exposure concentrations when pH influences on ionization and log D were considered. We observed statistically significant decreases in binding at the therapeutic target (SERT) and shelter-seeking behavior when fish plasma levels exceeded human therapeutic thresholds. Such observations highlights the strengths of coupling physiologically based pharmacokinetic modeling and AOP approaches and suggest that internal dosimetry should be monitored to advance an understanding of the ecological consequences of SSRI exposure to aquatic vertebrates.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Environmental Chemistry