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Title: Integrated testing strategy for the study of the effects of the human pharmaceutical dutasteride on fish
Authors: Margiotta-Casaluci, Luigi
Advisors: Sumpter, JP
Keywords: Environmental toxicology;Pharmaceuticals in the environment;Fish endocrinology;Endocrine disruptions;Read-across hypothesis
Issue Date: 2011
Publisher: Brunel University Institute for the Environment PhD Theses
Abstract: In recent years, a growing number of human pharmaceuticals have been detected in the aquatic environment, generally at low concentrations (sub-ng/L to low μg/L). These compounds are characterised by highly specific mechanisms of action, high potency and prolonged activity in order to minimise dosing requirements and potential toxicity in patients. Among the various classes of pharmaceuticals, steroids and anti-steroids are widely used, as shown by the analysis of their clinical use carried out at the beginning of this Ph.D. project. Although the amounts used are much lower than the amounts of some other pharmaceuticals (e.g. analgesics), their ability to affect important physiological processes in fish (e.g. reproduction) at very low concentrations (ng/L) suggest that this class of compounds should represent a high priority for ecotoxicological research. In particular, this Ph.D. project addressed the question of whether or not dutasteride, a human pharmaceutical mainly used to treat benign prostatic hyperplasia, may cause adverse effects in the teleost fathead minnow (Pimephales promelas) by inhibiting the activity of both isoforms of 5α-reductase (5αR), the enzyme which convert testosterone into dihydrotestosterone (DHT). The theoretical framework used to guide the design of the experimental studies was based on the combination of several conceptual approaches, including the study of the evolutionary degree of conservation and functionality of the drug target in non-target species, and the cross-species extrapolation of pharmacological and toxicological information generated during pre-clinical and clinical studies in mammals during drug development. The results obtained during the first phase of this Ph.D. project strongly suggested that DHT has a physiological role in the fathead minnow. In fact, 5αRs are evolutionary conserved in this species, 5αRs genes are expressed in tissues such as the testis, and DHT circulates in fathead minnow plasma at concentrations similar to those detected in humans. These findings represented the rationale for testing the effects of dutasteride in the fathead minnow. Dutasteride caused significant adverse effects in all the in vivo studies performed in order to evaluate its potential toxicity on fish, including early life stage and short term reproduction studies, and all the tested life stages were sensitive to the inhibition of 5αRs activity; however, none of the observed adverse effects occurred at concentrations of exposure lower than 32 μg/L (measured concentration). The results also showed that female fish are highly sensitive to disruption of the androgenic pathways, highlighting their utility for the evaluation of potential adverse effects caused by anti-androgens on fish. In conclusion, the results presented in this Thesis suggest that, at present, the potential presence of dutasteride in the environment does not represent a risk to wild fish populations, due to the high concentrations required to elict significant adverse effect (LOEC = 32 μg/L) and the low volume of drug prescribed every year (5.07 kg in UK in 2006). However, the high bioaccumulation factor of dutasteride suggest that further studies should be conducted to elucidate the role played by the bioaccumulation process in the toxicity responses observed in fish.
Description: This thesis was submitted for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy and awarded by Brunel University.
Appears in Collections:Environment
Institute for the Environment

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