Environmental Science and Pollution Research

, Volume 23, Issue 11, pp 10615–10629 | Cite as

Simvastatin effects on detoxification mechanisms in Danio rerio embryos

  • V. Cunha
  • M. M. Santos
  • P. Moradas-Ferreira
  • M. Ferreira
Review Article


The transcription and protein activity of defence mechanisms such as ABC transporters, phase I and II of cellular detoxification and antioxidant enzymes can be altered in the presence of emerging contaminants such as pharmaceuticals impacting the overall detoxification mechanism. The present work aimed to characterise the effects of simvastatin on the detoxification mechanisms of embryonic stages of Danio rerio. In a first approach, constitutive transcription of key genes involved in detoxification was determined. Embryos were collected at different developmental stages, and transcription patterns of genes coding for ABC transporters, phase I and II and oxidative stress were analysed. With exception of abcc2, all genes seem to be from maternal transfer (0–2 hpf). Embryos were then exposed to different concentrations of simvastatin (5 and 50 μg/L), verapamil and MK571 (10 μM; ABC protein inhibitors) and a combination of simvastatin and ABC inhibitors. mRNA expression levels of abcb4, abcc1, abcc2, abcg2, cyp1a, cyp3a65, gst, sod, cat was evaluated. Accumulation assays to measure ABC proteins activity and activity of EROD, GST, CAT and Cu/ZnSOD, were also undertaken. Simvastatin acted as a weak inhibitor of ABC proteins and increased EROD and GST activity, whereas Cu/ZnSOD and CAT activity were decreased. Simvastatin up-regulated abcb4 and cyp3a65 transcription (both concentrations), as well as abcc1 and abcc2 at 50 μg/L, and down-regulated gst, sod, cat at 5 μg/L. In conclusion, our data revealed the interaction of simvastatin with detoxification mechanisms highlighting the importance of monitoring the presence of this emerging contaminant in aquatic environments.


Simvastatin Zebrafish embryos ABC transporters Phase I and II Biotransformation Antioxidant enzymes 



The authors are thankful to Hugo Santos, Olga Martinez and Ricardo Lacerda for the technical assistance provided in the maintenance of the aquaria. Authors also thank Miguel Semedo, Ricardo Capela and Tiago Torres for the help with the samples. This study was funded by the Portuguese Science and Technology Foundation (FCT) through a fellowship to Virgínia Cunha (SFRH/BD/77931/2011), FCT project PTDC/MAR/098791/2008 and UID/Multi/04423/2013.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they do not have any conflict of interest.


Virgínia Cunha participated in the experimental design and practical work, analysis and interpretation of data and writing of the paper. Marta Ferreira participated in the experimental design, analysis and interpretation of data and along with Miguel Santos and Pedro Moradas-Ferreira that contributed to the article preparation by revising it critically.

Supplementary material

11356_2016_6547_MOESM1_ESM.docx (943 kb)
Supplementary file 1 (DOCX 943 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • V. Cunha
    • 1
    • 2
  • M. M. Santos
    • 1
    • 3
  • P. Moradas-Ferreira
    • 2
    • 4
    • 5
  • M. Ferreira
    • 1
    • 6
  1. 1.CIIMAR/CIMAR—Interdisciplinary Centre of Marine and Environmental Research, Coastal and Marine Environmental Toxicology LabUniversity of PortoPortoPortugal
  2. 2.ICBAS/UP—Institute of Biomedical Sciences Abel Salazar, University of PortoPortoPortugal
  3. 3.FCUP—Department of Biology, Faculty of SciencesUniversity of PortoPortoPortugal
  4. 4.I3S—Institute for Research and Innovation in Health, University of PortoPortoPortugal
  5. 5.IBMC, Institute for Molecular and Cell BiologyPortoPortugal
  6. 6.School of Marine Studies, Faculty of Science, Technology and EnvironmentThe University of South PacificSuvaFiji Islands

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