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Research article2020Peer reviewedOpen access

Low concentrations of the benzodiazepine drug oxazepam induce anxiolytic effects in wild-caught but not in laboratory zebrafish

Vossen, Laura E.; Cerveny, Daniel; Sen Sarma, Oly; Thornqvist, Per-Ove; Jutfelt, Fredrik; Fick, Jerker; Brodin, Tomas; Winberg, Svante


Pollution by psychoactive pharmaceuticals has been found to disrupt anti-predator behaviors of wild fish. The challenge is now to identify which of the many psychoactive drugs pose the greatest threat. One strategy is to screen for behavioral effects of selected pharmaceuticals using a single, widely available fish species such as zebrafish. Here, we show that although such high-throughput behavioral screening might facilitate comparisons between pharmaceuticals, the choice of strain is essential. While wild-caught zebrafish exposed to concentrations of the anxiolytic drug oxazepam as low as 0.57 mu g L-1 showed a reduction in the response to conspecific alarm pheromone, laboratory strain AB did not respond to the alarm cue, and consequently, the anxiolytic effect of oxazepam could not be measured. Adaptation to the laboratory environment may have rendered laboratory strains unfit for use in some ecotoxicological and pharmacological studies, since the results might not translate to wild fish populations. (C) 2019 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.


Oxazepam; Benzodiazepines; GABA; Pharmaceutical pollution; Schreckstoff; Domestication

Published in

Science of the Total Environment
2020, Volume: 703, article number: 134701
Publisher: ELSEVIER