Developmental exposure to the SSRI citalopram causes long-lasting behavioural effects in the three-spined stickleback (Gasterosteus aculeatus).
Ecotoxicology. 2018 Jan ;27(1):12-22. Epub 2017 Oct 23. PMID: 29058178
Selective Serotonin re-uptake inhibitors (SSRIs) are a class of psychotropic drugs used to treat depression in both adolescents and pregnant or breast-feeding mothers as well as in the general population. Recent research on rodents points to long-lasting behavioural effects of pre- and perinatal exposure to SSRIs which last into adulthood. In fish however, studies on effects of developmental exposure to SSRIs appears to be non-existent. In order to study effects of developmental SSRI exposure in fish, three-spine sticklebacks were exposed to 1.5 µg/l of the SSRI citalopram in the ambient water for 30 days, starting two days post-fertilisation. After approximately 100 days of remediation in clean water the fish were put through an extensive battery of behavioural tests. Feeding behaviour was tested as the number of bites against a pieceof food and found to be increased in the exposed fish. Aggression levels were measured as the number of bites against a mirror image during 10 min and was also found to be significantly increased in the exposed fish. Novel tank behaviour and locomotor activity was tested in an aquarium that had ahorizontal line drawn half-way between the bottom and the surface. Neither the latency to the first transition to the upper half, nor the number of transitions or the total time spent in the upper half was affected by treatment. Locomotor activity was significantly reduced in the exposed fish. The light/dark preference was tested in an aquarium where the bottom and walls were black on one side and white on the other. The number of transitions to the white side was significantly reduced in the exposed fish but there was no effect on the latency to the first transition or the total time spent inthe white half. The results in the current study indicate that developmental SSRI exposure causes long-lasting behavioural effects in fish and contribute to the existing knowledge about SSRIs as environmental pollutants.