, Volume 26, Issue 1, pp 104–117 | Cite as

Rainbow trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss) pro-oxidant and genotoxic responses following acute and chronic exposure to the antibiotic oxytetracycline

  • Sara RodriguesEmail author
  • Sara C. Antunes
  • Alberto T. Correia
  • Bruno Nunes


Oxytetracycline (OTC), an antibacterial agent, is extensively used in aquaculture practices all over the world, but also in human and veterinary medicines. Because of its intensive use, low rates of absorption by treated animals, inadequate disposal, and low efficiency of removal in wastewater treatment plants, the potential harmful effects on aquatic organisms are of great concern. This work aimed to assess the effects of this antibiotic in rainbow trout, following both acute and chronic exposures. Catalase (CAT), total glutathione peroxidase (GPx), glutathione reductase (GRed) activities and lipid peroxidation (TBARS levels) were quantified as oxidative stress biomarkers, in gills and liver. Genotoxic endpoints, reflecting different types of genetic damage in blood cells, were also determined, by analysis of genetic damage (determination of the genetic damage index, GDI, measured by comet assay) and erythrocytic nuclear abnormalities (ENAs). The obtained results showed a mild pattern of antioxidant response, with modifications in CAT and GPx activities in gills, and lipid peroxidation in liver. These results suggest that despite the occurrence of oxidative effects, a full scenario of oxidative stress is not likely. However, exposure to OTC resulted in the establishment of genotoxic alterations with the induction of DNA strand breaks in blood cells (increase of GDI), and of chromosome breakage and/or segregational abnormalities (increase of ENAs). Considering that the oxidative response was not totally devisable, other mechanisms may be involved in the genotoxic effects reported.


Pharmaceuticals Fish Antioxidant enzymes Lipid peroxidation Comet assay ENAs frequency 



Bruno Nunes was hired under the program Investigador FCT, co-funded by the Human Potential Operational Program (National Strategic Reference Framework 2007–2013) and European Social Fund (EU). Sara Rodrigues and Sara C Antunes received a Ph.D. fellowship (SFRH/BD/84061/2012) and a post-doc grant (SFRH/BPD/109951/2015), respectively, from Fundação para a Ciência e Tecnologia (Government of Portugal). This work was also supported by European Funds through COMPETE and by National Funds through the Portuguese Science Foundation (FCT) within projects PEst-C/MAR/LA0017/2013 and PEst-C/MAR/LA0015/2013.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no competing interests.

Ethical approval

All applicable international, national, and/or institutional guidelines for the care and use of animals were followed.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Sara Rodrigues
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • Sara C. Antunes
    • 1
    • 2
  • Alberto T. Correia
    • 2
    • 3
  • Bruno Nunes
    • 4
  1. 1.Departamento de Biologia da Faculdade de Ciências da Universidade do Porto (FCUP)PortoPortugal
  2. 2.Centro Interdisciplinar de Investigação Marinha e Ambiental (CIIMAR/CIMAR)PortoPortugal
  3. 3.Faculdade de Ciências da Saúde da Universidade Fernando Pessoa (FCS-UFP)PortoPortugal
  4. 4.Departamento de Biologia, Centro de Estudos do Ambiente e do Mar (CESAM)Universidade de Aveiro, Campus de SantiagoAveiroPortugal

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