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Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2021

Neuroactive drugs and other pharmaceuticals found in blood plasma of wild European fish

Cerveny, Daniel; Grabic, Roman; Grabicova, Katerina; Randák, Tomáš; Larsson, D.G. Joakim; Johnson, Andrew C.; Jürgens, Monika D.; Tysklind, Mats; Lindberg, Richard H.; Fick, Jerker


To gain a better understanding of which pharmaceuticals could pose a risk to fish, 94 pharmaceuticals representing 23 classes were analyzed in blood plasma from wild bream, chub, and roach captured at 18 sites in Germany, the Czech Republic and the UK, respectively. Based on read across from humans, we evaluated the risks of pharmacological effects occurring in the fish for each measured pharmaceutical. Twenty-three compounds were found in fish plasma, with the highest levels measured in chub from the Czech Republic. None of the German bream had detectable levels of pharmaceuticals, whereas roach from the Thames had mostly low concentrations. For two pharmaceuticals, four individual Czech fish had plasma concentrations higher than the concentrations reached in the blood of human patients taking the corresponding medication. For nine additional compounds, determined concentrations exceeded 10% of the corresponding human therapeutic plasma concentration in 12 fish. The majority of the pharmaceuticals where a clear risk for pharmacological effects was identified targets the central nervous system. These include e.g. flupentixol, haloperidol, and risperidone, all of which have the potential to affect fish behavior. In addition to identifying pharmaceuticals of environmental concern, the results emphasize the value of environmental monitoring of internal drug levels in aquatic wildlife, as well as the need for more research to establish concentration-response relationships.  


Psychoactive pharmaceuticals; Read-across; Pharmacological effect Behavior; Aquatic environment; Ecotoxicology

Published in

Environment International
2021, volume: 146, article number: 106188

Authors' information

Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Department of Wildlife, Fish and Environmental Studies
University of South Bohemia in České Budějovice
Grabic, Roman
University of South Bohemia in České Budějovice
Grabicova, Katerina
University of South Bohemia in České Budějovice
Randák, Tomáš
University of South Bohemia in České Budějovice
Larsson, D.G. Joakim
University of Gothenburg
Johnson, Andrew C.
UK Centre for Ecology and Hydrology (UKCEH)
Jürgens, Monika D.
UK Centre for Ecology and Hydrology (UKCEH)
Tysklind, Mats
Umeå University
Lindberg, Richard H.
Umeå University
Fick, Jerker
Umeå University

UKÄ Subject classification

Pharmacology and Toxicology
Fish and Wildlife Management

Publication Identifiers


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